University Of Washington Link Light Rail Station Image: Lizz Giordano

Eastside mayors want Metro and Sound Transit to relocate bus stops to improve bus-rail transfers before implementing service changes. The proposed restructuring would funnel Eastside bus commuters heading downtown to light rail at the University of Washington Station. That transfer requires riders to cross the busy streets of Montlake Boulevard and/or Pacific Street or use an out of the way walkway to switch between modes of transportation.

“Increasing commute times by 20 minutes while creating more mobility downtown will only incentivize single occupancy vehicles to drive to downtown Seattle rather than stick with public transportation,” wrote the seven Eastside Mayors in a letter to Metro and Sound Transit.

The Mayors want bus stops relocated to be adjacent to the light rail station and mobility improvements through the Montlake Hub. STB’s own Adam Parast showed one way to accomplish this in 2015 (pictured below).

“Sound Transit is supportive of improvements to the transfer environment at UW. King County Metro owns the bus shelters, and they are in active conversations about this with the City of Seattle and UW,” wrote Rachelle Cunningham, a spokesperson for Sound Transit in an email.

Metro estimates transfers currently take anywhere from 6-11 minutes, depending on direction and time of travel.

“The service concepts we’ve introduced would increase frequency on many Eastside routes, which would help reduce the time that riders would have to wait at the stop,” wrote Scott Gutierrez, a spokesperson for Metro in an email.

He said Metro is considering a range of changes, including relocation of stops, extending bus shelters, providing off-board payment and improving signage.

Adam’s Montlake Bus Concept

The restructure is partially intended to prepare for the closure of the Downtown Transit Tunnel to buses, now scheduled for sometime in 2019. The current proposed service change includes requiring downtown-bound Eastside bus riders to transfer to light rail at the UW Station, which would then free up buses allowing for expanded services to new areas and an increase the frequency of buses.

Disagreement on the public benefits package has delayed construction on the $1.6 billion Washington State Convention Center Addition project. This allows buses to continue using the Downtown Transit Tunnel a little longer, giving the advisory group, One Center City, more time to development and implement short term projects to improve mobility downtown during the period of “maximum constraint.”

Several participating advisory group members echoed the Eastside Mayors’ concern with the proposed restructuring urging Metro and Sound Transit to use the additional time to improve the transfer experience.

During the July 13 meeting of the One Center City advisory group, the Seattle Department of Transportation told participants more work is needed on the near-term strategies to deal with congestion and mobility as a multitude of redevelopment and transit projects begin.

“This work that is underway now, taking some feedback from the advisory group and elsewhere, really looking at if are there additional transit speed and reliability interventions, that we looked at earlier and want to bring back on the table. Maybe some things we haven’t yet looked at,” said Tom Brennan of Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates.

He said the goal is to have concrete near-term recommendations by the end of August, but the city did present a list of near-term pedestrian improvements, which the Seattle Department of Transportation said can be implemented in the next six years.

Susan McLaughlin, an Urban Design Manager with the Seattle Department of Transportation, said the agency looked at planned capital projects and channeling existing funding to projects in the center city.

Projects include reducing pedestrian crossing distances at angled intersection along Denny Way, improving the pedestrian experience at mobility hubs, developing an age-friendly toolkit and enhancing wayfinding in the center city.

Senior Transportation Planner Eric Tweit said one goal is to have a protected bike lane couplet using paint and posts, along Pike and Pine between First Street and 8th Street, done this year. The bike lane would extend on to Capitol Hill in the next few years.

The next One Center City meeting is scheduled for September.

57 Replies to “Eastside Mayors Criticize Bus Restructure Proposal”

  1. Where does this 20 min number come from? Is that maximum headway plus transfer walk time?

    Because I know the transfer at UW station is bad, but so is Stewart St and the Mercer weave. There is no way a bus driving downtown has a 20 min advantage at rush hour.

    1. 5 minutes to walk to the station, 5 minutes to get to the platform, 10 minute wait for a train, and you get to 20 minutes. However, these are overestimates. It takes two minutes to get from the Pacific Street bus stops to the entrance, and we can throw in an extra minute just in case. Then it takes two minutes to get to the platform. A typical train wait is 3-5 minutes; 10 minutes is a worst-case scenario. I think the Eastside mayors were just making a vague estimate, exaggerated for effect and worst-case scenarios. But we haven’t considered traffic, yet, and traffic causes delays at least once a week. So there’s five or ten minutes right there. And don’t underestimate those worst-case scenarios. I have several ways to get to work, but the ones that involve Link take a minimum of 25 minutes walking and waiting (24 minutes riding Link and 1-2 buses), and a maximum of 40 minutes walking and waiting, depending on how long I have to wait for Link and the bus(es). That’s a huge spread that can make the slow milk-run bus look good by comparison.

      1. The extra time to travel out of your way in heavy traffic. It is literally possible to get off at the freeway station and literally beat the bus to the station (takes me 8 minutes to walk). Then there are additional off-ramp delays. I wonder whether Metro has actually timed this in test runs. Also, to get somewhere reliably on time, you really have to leave early. How much early? At least the two headways of what you’re taking plus the transfer walk + pedestrian walk signal + elevator/escalator time. And you really do need to account for the “bad traffic” days because you don’t know which days those will be. And it’s not like traffic congestion is getting better.

        From the UW station to the bus stop near my office is a 5 minute bus ride with frequent service and little traffic. But I’m lucky if I get there 20 minutes after stepping off the train at UW station. It’s a wash whether walking is faster. If there’s any kind of traffic delay, walking is faster. Transfer penalty is real!


    2. I don’t see how to get to 20 minutes for the transfer time. The walk from the station to the bus bays, either direction is just a couple minutes, plus wait time at the light. Getting down to the platform is not 5 minutes. The maximum wait time may be 10 minutes, but for peak commuters, the max is 6 minutes, and average is 3 minutes. Metro’s 6-11 covers most of the spread, and errs on the side of over-counting off-peak riders.

      The 20 minutes described in the letter must be something other than transfer time. If they really think it could take 20 minutes, someone needs to give them the hint not to take the pedestrian bridge.

      1. The 20 minute figure is possible if the bus has to wait a long time at the Montlake exit ramp. But, even rush hour, most days, it isn’t that bad. Best case, I was once on a 271 heading down the Montlake exit ramp one moment, and actually on a Link train, moving, just 8 minutes later.

        Of course, this best case was not during rush hour. Rush hour, things will take long. But, a bus going downtown will also take longer. In terms of deciding when to leave, the amount of padding time you need to add to your schedule for the Montlake exit ramp vs. I-5/Stewart St. congestion is basically the same.

    3. “Metro’s 6-11 covers most of the spread, and errs on the side of over-counting off-peak riders.”

      Metro’s what?

      1. Metro’s estimate of 6-11 minutes to do the transfer at UW Station, which I’m sure is more scientifically valid that the alarmist napkin figure in the letter.

    4. There is no way a bus driving downtown has a 20 min advantage at rush hour.

      That exactly is what the time clock should be measured against. So you have to add the time it takes from when the bus exits 520 until the rider steps off onto the curb. Sailboat, add 5 minutes, event at Hec Ed add 10-30 minutes just to get from 520; at which point you might as well walk. Given the billions spent and knowing all the while that it was going to make transit from most of the eastside worse, it’s inexcusable how bad this transfer situation is. Metro/ST/et al. didn’t help the situation with there insane investments on low ridership eastside flyer stops while trying to abandon Montlake. Add in City of Seattle sitting on there hands when it came to planning and funding a west side solution which is why it’s currently so bad for buses trying to get to DT. And after all the money spent on the Mercer Mess it’s just as bad as it was before. And now they want to bring a BB team to the Seattle Center???

  2. The Mayors want bus stops relocated to be adjacent to the light rail station and mobility improvements through the Montlake Hub.

    Horray; good for them! I’m glad they’re not clinging to direct buses to downtown, but instead pushing for more changes to make the restructure better. Hopefully WSDOT (for the 520 ramp) and UW (for the station environment) will listen to them.

    (Also, can you please fix this site’s SSL certificate?)

    1. Until Jay Inslee calls the Chancellor of the University of Washington into his office and says “Your tenure at this University is on the line here. MAKE THIS WORK or start shopping your resume around.” nothing will happen.

      The same thing could be said to WSDOT as well. If a forced transfer in this terrible, hard to get to location is mandated, SDOT and WSDOT need to ensure that the buses can get to UW station promptly and reliably in the morning. The block between Hamlin and Shelby should be made 24/7 bus-only immediately, with a queue jump signal at Shelby giving the buses priority to the bridgehead.

      Montlake should be re-striped somewhat between the off-ramp and Hamlin so that the current long merge between is shortened so that the buses can get into their lane more quickly. I realize this has to be a “BAT” style lane because the only way into the blocks east of Montlake Blvd from the south is a right turn at Hamlin.

      To get buses off the freeway in a reasonable time, there is very serendipitous opportunity for a bus jump into the queue waiting for Montlake. There is some unused pavement just east of the current Flyer stop which was to have been the westbound on-ramp from the R.H. Thompson (?) freeway that was supposed to have gone through the Arboretum. However, with a little concrete poured up the hill behind the flyer stop, this could be a bus-only exit to jump ahead of all the cars queued in the super-long off-ramp to Montlake.

      The buses would exit from the main lanes into the Flyer stop just as they do now, but the Jersey barrier would be removed and they’d simply veer right up the hill. There is a bridge abutment for 24th East just about the place that they’d start up the hill, so from that point the off-ramp should be widened five or six feet to the north — there certainly must be time to do that in the next ten months. The general purpose lane would be moved into the current shoulder and the narrow “widening” would become the new shoulder. Sure, it’s definitely sub-optimal, but that whole section of the roadway is going to be rebuilt in a few years so it’s a cheap improvement for a short while.

      The Jersey barrier at the left side of the off-ramp can also be removed since there will no longer be pedestrians walking down to the flyer stop. That would gain a couple of feet for the bus lane. I imagine that the sidewalk would have to be replaced with genuine paving…..

      Again, that can be done in ten months. Get on it, WSDOT.

      Grant, the buses would have to merge through the general purpose traffic, but it’s moving so slowly in the AM peak that it really shouldn’t be a huge problem.

      There’s not much which can be done to greatly improve the outbound commute, but for most people a five to fifteen minute delay is not as critical as one occurring on the inbound commute. Yes, people have to get their kids from child care locations, but that is a small minority of bus riders. Most such parents drive.

      So, with this package you have increased the reliability of and decreased the time required to negotiate the exit from SR520 to Montlake and forwarded the buses to Shelby with little further delay. Add that demand from Governor Inslee that UW accommodate the buses at HSS, dramatically reducing the walking required to transfer, and you have upgraded a lousy bus intercept into a tolerable-to-good one.

  3. This could be a very good development or a very bad development. I’ve long said ST listens to the cities first, and here are the cities speaking, asking for the same enhancements we’ve asked for. This could be a catalyst to make it happen. However, if the agencies go to UW and ask again for permission to put the bus stops next to the station and UW again says no, then the net result may be calling off the restructure, because the cities said the stops should be moved before the restructure occurs. And to the extent that the cities knew it was impossible to move the stops or they be moved already, then this is obstructionism on the part of the cities. What the cities could do is go to Olympia and get the legislature to pressure UW to consider the greater good of the region, since the same principal applies: legislators listen to elected officials more than they listen to us. Then if Dow chimes in, and Snohomish County speaks up as a sympathetic friend since the station is a regional transfer point, that would have the maximum effect. They should not only move the bus stops, but revive the idea of adding stops and layovers in the parking lots east of Montlake Blvd.

    1. Frankly, half of me is inclined to agree on calling off the restructure unless the transfer environment is improved. I don’t want to wait ten minutes at PM rush hour to struggle up the Montlake ramp, only to spend another five minutes waiting for the left-turn light, waiting for the light to change for the crosswalk, and then rushing down escalators. (Yes, that’s a worst-case scenario. But not really exaggerated.)

      Wild and crazy idea: Have the buses drop passengers off at Montlake Freeway Station, exit on Roanoke, take the University Bridge, and then loop back on Pacific to pick up passengers by UW Medical Center.

      1. But the Montlake Freeway is likely to close in a couple of years, as the Montlake lid construction heats up. What, then?

      2. By then, hopefully, we’ll have a bus lane on the Montlake exit ramp. Even if not, things getting worse in a couple years is no reason to make them worse now in advance.

    2. Maybe to get UW cooperation there needs to be a vision for a transfer environment that UW is part of. UW Station would be an amazing place to have a Portland Aerial Tram-style bike valet, which would be just as useful for UW students/staff as people passing through (a lot of people arrive to campus by bike, a lot of the bike parking on campus is uncovered and has theft issues).

      The harder thing is to think of is a transit amenity that benefits UW. Maybe the additional UW-eastside service is the amenity. UW students/staff that live over there have pretty adequate service today, and they’d have excellent service following a restructure. But making that service more frequent and consistent throughout the day and week would be a big win for people with business in both places. Making UW-eastside transit easy to use, accessible from one obvious, visible place, would really encourage use. If someone asks me, “Where do I get the bus,” and I have to go look up the schedule because every route picks up some place different and the best thing to do depends on what day and time it is, they know how to use transit for one trip but maybe not for every trip. If I can instantly say, “Oh, all the eastside buses pick up next to the light rail station by the stadium,” now they know how to use transit for that trip every time.

  4. It’s notable that seven mayors are being so succinct and direct about having a major-crosswalk-free connection! It will be interesting to see if this push does any good, or if the unmotivated powers at UW or the timid local leaders who could be more publicly demanding will make something actually happen.

    I’m particularly disappointed that Dow Constantine has not been more emphatic about this, since this is a fairly safe issue for him to pursue. It makes me question his commitment to good transit.

    1. All you transit nerds need to get off your haunches and write some letters! Dow Constantine, Jay Inslee, Ana Mari Cauce, UW DOT, SDOT, WSDOT, all of these folks’ offices are awaiting your comments on how terrible the transfer is and how much it’d benefit both the UW and the region if there were better connections here. Push for the STB suggested transfer! Push for Transit Signal Priority at the intersections! Write, or you lose all right to complain!

      1. I’d suggest that — as chair of an agency that lists drivers’ salaries as their biggest expense — Dow should be eager to save money on driver salaries by reducing the round trip time required by 520 buses ending at UW Station. Do other signal priority projects require letters? Nope!

        I’m also not convinced that UW cares about letters. That is part of the bigger structural issue, which is that each entity is out for their own specific interests and no one is charged with taking responsibility for a great connection. Dow is probably in the strongest position since he sits on multiple boards, so his commitment on this could be the major force that could get changes.

        A second force would be the City of Seattle, since they operate the signals and stripe the roadway. The City could easily give UW an ultimatum to give over the parking spaces and access for buses or face new sanctions for non-cooperation. Being nice to UW appears to not be working.

      2. The city can’t do much to UW. I think there’s some dumb lawsuit going on about this now. AFAICT UW wants to remove a small, ugly, useless building on its campus to make room for something more useful, and Seattle wants to protect it as a historical landmark. So instead of just arguing against the landmark designation like most land owners would do, UW is going with the full, “You’re not my dad,” defense, claiming Seattle can’t regulate UW, period. I wish they could both lose.

        Anyway, as dumb as that parking lot is, if we want something better we’ll have to come up with something that benefits UW… and convince them that they came up with it.

      3. Possible sanctions:

        1. Turn off pedestrian push buttons and run signals on old-fashioned fixed cycles all day and night — and respond to UW complaints in a snarky, condescending way like they do to everyone else.
        2. Reduce the green time allowed from signals that control going into or out parking garages in the name of through traffic flow.
        3. Take away on-street parking and add space for buses and drop-off vehicles.
        4. Add bus-only lanes to streets around campus.
        5. Prohibit turns at the intersections that access garages and lots used by the administration.

      4. UW can’t be touched by cities, but students (such as myself) can probably put some modicum of pressure on the administration. They can however be touched by the state, so email your legislators.

  5. “Disagreement on the public benefits package has delayed construction on the $1.6 billion Washington State Convention Center Addition project.”

    This is not why the project is being delayed. The King County land sale imposed restrictions on when buses can come out of the tunnel and House Bill 2015 did not pass this year to add extra funding for construction.

    1. The King County land sale is not delaying the Convention Center. It’s recognizing that the Convention Center is already delayed and pushing out the tunnel closure correspondingly.

      Depending on when the Convention Center is ready to move forward, the tunnel will close in March or September 2019. The broadly-voiced expectation is that it will be the latter date because they won’t even be ready to meet the criteria for a March closure.

      How much of this is up to the prolonged benefits package debate? Maybe the delays are over-determined. But the delays with the Convention Center are driving the tunnel closure restrictions, not the other way around.

      1. Considering passenger demand since UW Station opened, it’s time that trains have the DSTT to themselves. I think loading time for the two vehicle types tell the story.

        Even with most skilled loaders and best securement equipment, a bus will always take minimum of a minute to load. Trains, half that. Schedules even give buses and trains different amount of time to run the Tunnel.

        Wish MLK LINK service had only that problem. Trains late out of the Tunnel put four miles of signals out of synch. In addition to SDOT demands that don’t put train speed first. Need to catch an international flight does ride quality no good.

        Bus air conditioning doesn’t work in hush mode. So standing load stopped between stations have all the dignity and comfort of dog food in a warm can. Joint ops were meant to be temporary. Temp’s up.

        I do think we could make joint use fit to carry living creatures is we keep our two massively heaviest routes the 41 and the 550 until rail can cover. Provided King County Metro decides it’s worth minimal supervisory effort to get training and control worthy of either word.

        So here’s my plan. Massive campaign with above paragraph for agenda. Most routes to the street, but two heavy routes stay in DSTT, brought to max performance. Believe me, make that decision Monday noon, and rush hour all wheels will run on steel.


  6. Metro, and all the signatory cities in the letter, were all no-shows when Sound Transit was doing charrettes around station and street design. UW was represented, at least listening.

    Metro is slowly, but surely, learning to get involved in street design.

    But even with good street design, Metro is still in love with loop-de-loop detour stops that ruin whole bus routes, such as the South Kirkland Park & Ride and its Transit-Ruining Development. But at least in that case, riders could walk to a street stop, or something not at the far wrong end of the parking lot. Serving the front door of the apartments was somehow deemed worth losing gobs of ridership north of the park & ride.

    And so, I can see Metro pushing to add several minutes to SR 520 – UW commuters’ rides in order to shave a minute of transfer time for those transferring at UW Station. After all, the UW commuters aren’t complaining about possible bay shifts in the surveys, so they must be okay with it. Right?

    Metro’s line during the UW Station street design was that it was too early then to start thinking about bus paths, and that that would happen in 2014-15. For SR 520 connections, it got punted from 2015 to 2017, and maybe even later. UW would be right to throw up its hands and say “Where were you when we were redesigning the streets for UW Station?”

    1. Does anyone here have the inside scoop on the loop-de-debacles that seem to afflict so many routes? Why waste minutes of all the through riders time to shave off a mere 30′?

      1. Presumably, it happens because riders headed to that one particular destination are considered more important than everybody else, and deserve preferential treatment.

      2. I’ll comment about the loop-de-loops on the Sunday Open Thread, since it is the topic of a Jarrett Walker rant there.

    2. So it’s Metro’s fault that the stations are in such a horrible location for a bus transfer. Fair enough. I wonder if the head of Metro can talk to the head of Sound Transit. Oh wait, they are the same guy! Oh, and who was in charge of the convention center expansion, which suddenly made the situation a lot more urgent? Again, the same guy.

      Ultimately, the buck stops with Dow Constantine — it’s your mess Dow — go ahead and fix it.

      1. It would take several pages to list all of Constantine’s accomplishments, and we would still have missed most of them. But just to be brief: ST3, ORCA LIFT, the multi-agency U-Link restructure, the end of Metro’s 40/40/20 rule that kept it from rolling out new service in Seattle, getting ST into the transit-oriented development and affordable housing business, … and the list goes on. Constantine has no serious opposition, but we would be remiss in not honoring one of the most effective public servants King County has ever had.”

  7. There’s an optimistic way, and a pessimistic way, to interpret this letter.

    The optimistic take assumes a discussion at the staff and political level to remake the Montlake transfer environment in important ways. This letter, maybe, is just the public manifestation of the technical process.

    The pessimistic take is that UW and the agencies are working on incremental changes at Montlake and the mayors are just venting. When they don’t get what they want, they might blow up the restructure.

    How can we figure which is correct? One clue would be if we saw Eastsiders engaged in the details of transit in the Montlake corridor. As Brett points out, that has never been the case before.

    There is nothing in the letter about what improvements the cities want to see, beyond how they don’t like crossing the street.

    The agencies are speaking publicly about improved bus shelters and real-time information. Good for them, but that’s not the problem the cities are pointing at.

    The repetition, several times in the letter, of “increasing commute times by 20 minutes” is unjustifiable. If the cities were sweating the details, they wouldn’t get basic facts wrong.

    1. Have you ever sat on a bus exiting 520 to head to Pacific during rush hour? Do you know how long that takes?? I ride my bike through the Montlake Exchange during rush hour twice a week. It is a complete mess – a typical example of the incompetence of this region’s transportation agencies.

      If you know for a fact that the 20 minutes estimate is wrong, provide the evidence.

      1. My guess, Kevin, is that it’s comparable to riding the same bus into Seattle CBD. Though if the traffic between top of the ramp and UW Station runs even a couple mph faster than walking, problem could be solving itself as we speak. Especially if we put back the 43.

        Also, maybe transit could provide a large number of free bikes at both ends. Wouldn’t mention scooters (not the Vespa ones unless SIFF is showing a 1950’s Italian movie) if I hadn’t seen people dressed for the office of same period scooting along on the ones you can put in your briefcase.

        But just to get the concept under discussion so it’s ready by 2019: Have UW move morning classes up to, say, five am, or whatever is two hours before rush hour. Same for pm last class departure, maybe starting after seven.

        And for those hours, close the ramps to everything except buses, emergency vehicles, and if we have room, some trucks. It’d make us some powerful allies.

        For three hundred years or so, New York City has been proving that anyplace World Enough Class enough to deserve rapid transit finds a lot of different eight-hours work or school slots in the twenty four available. Would definitely be “a bit of a giggle” to hear the translake mayors’ response to that one. Especially if the truckers like it.

        Whole UW community should take those hours in stride because whether you’re an actual doctor or studying to be one or doing anything else requiring the UW stop, you’ve been working those hours since you were five. Oh, yeah, also if you’re driving what’ll be allowed on the ramps.

        Meantime, good way to make UW cooperate on bus stop placing: tell them their other choice is we turn trains back at Broadway ’till Northgate is done. And tell the public the decision is UW’s alone. One institution’s terrorism is another’s fight for freedom.

        Mark Dublin

  8. Thank God for the Mayors to send this letter.

    This restructure is a horrible idea that would decimate ridership on the SR-520 corridor.

    It’s especially horrible off-peak when the 20 minute number is dead accurate. Off-peak it’s usually less than 10 minutes between the Montlake Freeway station and 5th&Pine/Westlake. There is no way that the diversion to UW plus transfer time is in any possible way a saving. It’s a 20 minute penalty when all is said and done. Worse if there is a bridge opening, event at UW etc. Horrible if you are leaving downtown in the evenings and there is no time-coordination, which is almost impossible given the length of time to get out of the UW station and zero visible interface between train and bus.

    It might theoretically be better at peak periods, but then the Montlake exit and entire Montlake Bridge/Pacific St/Montlake Blvd area are often gridlocked.

    There is no benefit to the Eastside from these changes, and instead it will make transit unattractive and make the transit infrastructure investment on the SR-520 corridor worthless. And assuredly increase taxpayer and legislator hostility toward Sound Transit and Metro on the Eastside. There are other buses that could be truncated with less negative repercussions… near the top of the list would be buses from Kent and Tacoma which could have good Sounder connections that actually meaningfully increase reliability. And if it causes our agencies to have modal fare equality, that would be a net positive, too, as there is no good reason to use fare policies to discourage using certain modes or buses.

    1. There is another side of this too. The restructure does improve off-peak frequency. If you want cross-lake buses running more than once an hour on a Saturday night, this is how it’s going to happen. Also, the amount of time if takes buses to get from one end of downtown to the other end is wildly unpredictable. In the eastbound direction, this translates into wildly unpredictable waits at the bus stop for people getting on at the north end of downtown. And, then the downtown buses move from tunnel to surface streets, it’s only going to get worse.

      And that’s not even getting into what it’s like trying to ride the 545 or 255 to destinations in Seattle outside of downtown. Typically, it means either long, unpredictable waits at Montlake Freeway Station, or long backtracks to downtown and slogs through downtown.

      Today, it may appear as through the ridership to non-downtown destinations is insignificant, but that’s because they’re all driving because the quality of service is so terrible. And, when Montlake Freeway Station closes for lid construction, not doing the restructure basically forces all off-peak U-district->Eastside travelers to backtrack all the way to downtown Seattle, which would add as much as 45-minute to every trip.

      1. I find that alighting at the first stop downtown (Stewart/Denny) brings most of SLU into acceptable walking distance, as well as making Seattle Center accessible via the 8. That all goes away with the UW deviation.

        The evening frequency increases are counteracted by the fact that you first have to wait for Link, then do the Montlake triangle street crossings… and then finally whether the schedules are coordinated? Evenings downtown isn’t clogged so the bus arrival times are reasonably predictable – and it takes only around 15-20 minutes from downtown to S. Kirkland or Overlake. It’s unlikely you’d even be on board the bus at UW in 15-20 minutes once you add up all the steps (wait for Link, Link travel time, 3 escalators or elevators, 2 signalized street crossings, wait for next bus.)

        The only feasible time the deviation isn’t a huge penalty is weekday peak commute period.

      2. “Today, it may appear as through the ridership to non-downtown destinations is insignificant, but that’s because they’re all driving because the quality of service is so terrible.”

        +1. These routes are the only transit between most of the Eastside and Seattle. How many of these riders are going downtown specifically, vs how many are going to north Seattle or Capitol Hill or elsewhere? Yes, I know there are a lot of people who work downtown, and a lot of people who won’t take transit except to go downtown because downtown parking is so expensive. But are we really designing all-day transit routes for these people, or are we designing them for people who make most of their trips on transit, and who therefore go to places all over Seattle at all times, not just to downtown peak hours?

      3. many of these riders are going downtown specifically, vs how many are going to north Seattle or Capitol Hill or elsewhere?

        I’d say it’s in the +90-95% of eastside riders going either DT or to the UW. More crucial to eastside based riders are connections on the eastside. However, I’d venture a guess that ridership originating from the left side to Bellevue/Redmond/Kirkland is likely less than 50%, perhaps much less, from DT or the U Dist.

      4. Some notes:

        – I have anecdotally observed evening eastbound 545 trips to complete their tour of downtown anywhere from 2 minutes early to 15 minutes late. Most of the variability isn’t even caused by car traffic, but by crowding and change fumbling at bus stops. A good portion of the time, the delta between when the 545 is supposed to get to 4th and Pine and when it actually does is enough time to ride Link all the way to the UW Station.

        – If there’s any kind of parade or protest going on downtown, you have absolutely no idea when the bus is going to show up. Such delays propagate throughout the system so that even people who aren’t going downtown and have no idea what’s going on downtown are affected.

        – Some people (e.g. those going to the airport) end up needing to transfer to Link anyway to reach their final destination. This number is only going to increase as Link gets built out.

        – Most of the U-district buses don’t even go to Montlake Freeway Station, but turn around at the Montlake Triangle, thereby requiring either an additional connection on the 48 or a 1/3-mile walk to reach the freeway station.

        – There is no reason why bus schedules cannot be coordinated with train schedules, especially in the late evenings when Link frequency is down to every 15 minutes.

  9. Brent, all the governments were involved in the Pacific Triangle design (e.g., WSDOT, SDOT, ST, Metro, and UW).

    The 20-minute transfer seems made up.

    Compare with the slow and worsening status quo on the I-5 general purpose lanes and downtown surface streets. the WSCC may impact Olive Way soon. The CCC streetcar utility relocation will cause diversion to 2nd and 4th avenues. The tolled deep bore will divert traffic to 2nd and 4th avenues. If SDOT added PBL, that may narrow lanes.

  10. What a great letter. It’s encouraging to see this kind of vision and leadership from mayors of all these cities that aren’t Seattle. I doubt those cities would be happy with the alternative of declining access to Seattle on the existing buses stuck in more traffic, so that pretty much leaves improving the UW transit hub as the biggest thing that needs doing. As Seattle has long supported the same goal, in principle, a consensus seems to be building (at least among all the entities that aren’t UW) that we need to move forward with this.

    Someone will then have to figure out:
    – what kind of project will achieve the desired results (such as those described in this letter) for the transfer experience at UW Station and how could it be constructed?
    – cost, potential for phasing, funding sources
    – benefits / impacts and any potential mitigation to UW

    My gut feeling is that there does exist a way to modify the surface realm to get bus stops adjacent to the rail station, without causing significant general traffic or transit delays for people passing through. Maybe it’s a variation of an idea we’ve seen, or maybe something new. It may well involve a bit more real estate for bus circulation and a few minor sacrifices here and there; it might mean some surface parking spaces are impacted. This seems like a small sacrifice but to the extent it’s a real one, it’s one that can be fully mitigated.

    This kind of stuff takes time and the clock is ticking in the countdown to some kind of restructure, so I hope that work is already underway on this, somewhere.

  11. In the diagram, why does the southbound through route not go directly adjacent to the station? People looking to transfer would still have to cross a street

    1. Probably because of the left turn at Montlake and Pacific. That would complicate the southside walk signaling

      1. Nope, that’s not correct. The 520 terminating buses turn left, so that’s already happening.

        Maybe to avoid overloading the westside stop?

      2. There’s plenty of space. I wouldn’t think overloading the stop is a real issue. I mean where the stop is right now, there’s an elevator, so I guess it’s a little better than the current location, but not by much.

  12. Adam’s concept is so obviously the way to do things. I’m glad the mayors support it.

    Of course, I expect UW to claim that a few spaces of stadium parking are more valuable than many busloads of passengers. Because parking.

    1. Jay Inslee needs to break some heads at UW to get this done. That’s the bottom line, really, for the bus reroute proposal

    2. Now, how to convince Jay Inslee. 2/3 of his constituents don’t care about this issue, and he’ll instinctively prioritize what an “essential” state institution wants over what mere cities want. The logical way is to replace him with a more urban-friendly governor, but how do you get the voters to agree when 2/3 of them are suburban/rural and think he’s deferring to much to urban/liberal preferences?

      1. Mike,

        You’re right that his general preferences would be to listen more to UW. The thing is that UW is being obtuse. Except during home football games when the loop behind the station would become a big pedestrian flow problem, the “cost” to the University is almost non-existent, maybe five or ten parking spots at most. How cravenly selfish is that?

        I’ll grant that Inslee is not the world’s most daring politician, but even he can see the cost-benefit of the loop proposal if it’s pointed out to him.

      2. I should have said, “The thing is that UW is being obtuse in this particular instance. If it’s pitched that way, he might listen and agree.

    3. It’s in effect medical center parking except for 7 Saturdays a year, not stadium parking.

      Let’s be honest from the UW’s perspective. The state provides a whopping 5% of the UW’s annual budget, for all of you that think your tax money is paying for that – or that the Legislature holds some sort of giant hammer over the school’s head. The medical center provides nearly half. Guess who the UW President’s office is going to listen to? The state has almost wholly abrogated its responsibility to higher education, at least at the UW, where the level of funding nearly makes the school a de facto private institution. The thought of Jay Inslee (or any governor) removing the extremely popular and respected Dr. Cauce over this issue is laughable. I’m not even sure he can without convincing or replacing the Board of Regents.

      That said, I intend to contact Dr. Cauce and Jen Cohen (the athletic director, although she has nothing to do with it as the parking’s not under her remit) because these excellent fixes that Adam came up with should be of little impact to the school and great impact to commuters. Improving the situation at the station will be of some use to the UW community as well, and I hope that they’ll see that.

      To be honest, ST not even designing the line with a level area in the tunnel at 520 for a potential future station at what even then should have been seen as a major transit interchange point is the root cause of this – but of course the horse is long out of that barn.

  13. So they basically are complaining to what we all complained about. The Bus transfers are too dam far. I guess we will see if suburbs get a better bus stop of the Seattlites.

Comments are closed.