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There are many express bus routes that go from Downtown Seattle to other places around the city. I feel like some of these routes are not too necessary, and instead there should be a single frequent express route to that area instead.

The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel is expected to be closed to buses in 2019. This means that many buses will have to go on the Downtown streets. Metro has a couple plans, but I came up with some alternatives.

Route 99 is expected to end soon due to construction of the Center City Connector on 1st Ave, so Metro should make use of some of the stops. The Center City Connector construction is only between Stewart and Jackson, so the stops north of Stewart are still available.

Removing Express Routes

SR-520 routes (other than one or two peak expresses) will instead run north to the University of Washington station at Husky Stadium, laying over elsewhere in that area.

Instead of going to Downtown, Route 125 will run like Route 50 between Delridge and Alaska Junction. A peak-only Route 125X will run to Downtown along the current 125 routing.

Route 101 will be discontinued. Routes 148 and 169 will be extended to Rainier Beach via Sunset Blvd, MLK, and Henderson. Routes 148 and 169 will each run at 30-minute frequency all 7 days a week, providing combined 15-minute service on MLK between Rainier Beach and Renton. Route 102 will still serve Downtown, possibly with some additional peak trips.

When Northgate Link opens, Route 41 will run only between Northgate and Lake City.

Changing Through-Routes

Routes that will no longer have through-routes: 1, 5, 24, 26, 28, 33, 124, 131, 132. Check the section on New Downtown Terminals to see where they would terminate in Downtown.

Routes that will receive through-routes: 40, 70 (see Other Changes section)

Route 2S will always through-route with Route 13. Route 1 will be extended to replace Route 2N on 6th Ave W, terminating at the former Route 4 loop in East Queen Anne.

New Downtown Terminals

Routes Coming from South

Instead of terminating in South Lake Union, RapidRide C will terminate at the current 99 stop at Elliot/Broad, using Broad and Cedar to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Instead of going to International District via Jackson, Route 106 will run to South Lake Union via Boren and Fairview, terminating at the old RapidRide C layover spot.

Route 124 will layover at the current northbound 99 stop at 1st/Cedar, using Wall and Cedar to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Route 150 will layover at the current northbound 99 stop at 1st/Lenora, using Lenora and Blanchard to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Route 120 will layover at the current southbound 99 stop at 1st/Lenora, using Lenora and Virginia to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Routes 131 and 132 will layover at the current southbound 99 stop at 1st/Wall, using Cedar and Battery to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Route 550 will run like Route 554 in Downtown.

Route 102 will run like Route 190 in Downtown.

Routes Coming from North

Route 5 will terminate at the current 70 layover spot at Main St.

Route 62 will stay on 3rd Ave until Jackson, then go on Jackson and terminate at the 99 layover spot on 8th/King.

Routes 24, 26, 28, and 33 will go to Ryerson Base.

Since Route 14 will be through-routed with Route 70 (see Other Changes section), Route 1 will run to Atlantic Base with a few stops along Airport Way.

Route 41 will run like Route 522 in Downtown.

Route 74 will run like Route 76 in Downtown.

Frequency Changes

Routes 11, 120, 124, and 150 will run at 15-minute frequency all 7 days a week.

Route 47 will run at 15-minute frequency during peak hours, and 30-minute frequency at all other times.

Route 4 will run peak-only between Downtown and Mt Baker TC, operating as an express along Jefferson. It will no longer be a trolley route. Route 3 will run at 15-minute frequency all 7 days a week.

Routes 26 and 28 will no longer be coordinated to provide 15-minute service on Aurora. Aurora already has frequent service with the E Line and Route 5.

Other Changes

Route 27 will move to Jackson between Downtown and 31st Ave S, and it will be renumbered 25. The current route 27 will remain as a peak-only route. Route 14 (and Route 70) will temporarily become diesel routes while wire is placed to Leschi so that Route 25 can be electrified. Routes 14 and 25 will each run at 30-minute frequency, providing 15-minute frequency along Jackson. They will be through-routed with Route 70. Pretty soon, Route 48 will be a trolley route, so the vehicles currently assigned to Routes 14 and 70 will be used on Route 48. After the Leschi wire is completed and Metro receives more vehicles, Routes 14, 25, and 70 will be electrified again.

RapidRide D and Route 40 will swap routings north of NW 85th St. This means RapidRide D will terminate at Northgate TC, and Route 40 will terminate at Carkeek Park. Route 40 will be through-routed with Route 21.

Route 49 will run via Madison/Marion instead of Pike/Pine. Route 12 will run during peak periods only, and Route 60 will be extended to Interlaken Park to replace Route 12 along 19th. I know people might say this 49 rerouting would be redundant to the future Madison BRT, but I think by the time Madison BRT opens, Routes 49 and 36 will be combined into one route running through First Hill.

13 Replies to “Downtown Restructure”

  1. Re: Route 99. Route 99 AFAIK was supposed to “replace” the waterfront trolley.Maybe it did. Is it a foregone conclusion that the Waterfront trolley with the antique cars is never coming back because of the Olympic Sculpture Park?

    1. I’m not sure, but I don’t think they will bring back the streetcar. I don’t think the Olympic Sculpture Park was the only reason for closing the streetcar; there is also the SR-99 tunnel construction, which required removing and replacing a lot of cement. As a result, a large portion of the tracks had to be removed, too. When the streetcar was replaced with the bus, Route 99 ran along Alaskan Way, but once the construction got far enough, Route 99 had to be moved to 1st Ave. Metro was considering moving the bus to Western Ave, but there is also construction there. Now Route 99 will be deleted, but I think it will return to Alaskan Way once the tunnel construction is complete. Metro has sold a few of the antique cars, but apparently they plan to retrofit the rest to run on the SLU and First Hill lines.

    2. The waterfront plan recommends a battery bus or minibus on Alaskan Way. Whether it will be called 99 is unknown.

      1. It did study that. The options in the transit report are vintage streetcar (meaning the Benson streetcars), modern streetcar, electric bus, or electric minibus. The report disrecommends streetcars because the tracks would take up too much of the limited space available and displace other uses (i.e,, the open space), and they can’t be extended up the Broad Street incline to Seattle Center (a phase 2 option). It also has details about specific issues for each mode (for the vintage streetcars, restoring them to good condition, different platform hight from modern streetcars at shared stations (Jackson Street), etc.) The report ends up recommending either bus or minibus equally.

        Note that the center transit lanes are from Washington Street to Columbia Street for the regional buses; this is the same stretch that has the ferry-queuing lane. North of Columbia the regional buses turn east, the ferry traffic disappears, and the road narrows to four lanes. So the waterfront circulater might not use the transit lanes but stay in the outer lanes for the full stretch from Yesler Way to Broad Street. (At Yesler it turns east to Pioneer Square; at Broad an optional extension could go to Seattle Center.)

      2. Based on Waterfront Seattle plans and James Corner Field Operations (the designer of the waterfront park proposal), service along the waterfront is supposed to be replaced by Jitney buses.

    3. After the Broad Street trolley barn was demolished, there was a plan for a new building next to Occidental Park to have a trolley barn on its ground floor. That building was delayed, and now the Weyerhaeuser headquarters is on that spot. There doesn’t seem to be an allowance for a trolley barn on the first floor. Maybe they could have used the First Hill trolley barn.

  2. Since the 5 is currently thru-routed with the 21, so what happens with the 21 in Downtown Seattle? (no mention of what happens with the 21 in your post)?

    I know that there has been plans to thru-route the 36 and 49 as one route. My biggest problem is direct access to Int’l District proper for 36 riders (proposed 36/49 would only have access on the east end, while LINK has access to the west end). most of these people tend to be elderly asian people.

  3. You do know that Route 169 will be going to every 15 minute frequencies weekday peak and midday starting this September. I know Metro has a proposal to extend the 40 up to First Hill. I see you have it thru-routed with the 21. the biggest problem of thru-routing the 49 and 36 is the that the 36 will miss the central portion of the International District, where most riders are headed to. It does not make sense for the 36 to go all the way to downtown, but to miss the International District proper will have elderly Asians making transfers at 12th/Jackson or down to ID/Chinatown LINK station.

    Finally, a problem of getting rid of thru-routing is more buses in the CBD and added operational costs. Remember, the issue of having SR-520 buses be truncated to UW station is to reduce buses in CBD proper Your concept will just add more buses. We should look at different thru-routing possibilities. Some thru-routes are already too long (like the 5 and 21 for example).

    1. It is true that many 36 riders are headed to International District. Metro has a plan to move the 60 to ID. I think the best option would be to keep Route 36 going to the ID, while Route 60 goes on 14th/15th in First Hill. Maybe Route 36 can layover at 2nd/Main instead of going to Downtown.

      My concept removes most of the 520 routes and also Routes 101 and 125. My concept also break some ridiculously long through-routes. Many routes that have through-routes are already long enough (such as the 124), so I decided to break those through-routes. The problem is that the only other through-route opportunities that I did not mention in my post (7 and 36) have mismatched frequencies with the routes that got their through-routes broken. Routes 24, 26, 28, and 33 each run at 30-minute frequencies, while Routes 7 and 36 each run at 10-12 minute frequencies. Maybe if the 60 to ID proposal comes true, then Routes 24 and 33 could be through-routed with Route 60, but I don’t think this will be happening anytime soon, if at all.

      I was thinking of truncating the 21 at Alaska Junction, but I mentioned that in a previous post and it turns out that a good number of riders are headed from 35th to Avalon, and truncating the 21 at Alaska Junction would ruin the grid. I was also thinking of truncating Route 41 at Northgate TC and having Route 512 deviate to Northgate TC, but then that would be a major inconvenience for the other 512 riders because the bus would have to deviate into the overcrowded Northgate area.

  4. The 101 serves apartments along MLK Way and a popular southwest Skyway stop. How do you serve these places if the 101 is taken away? Loop the 107 to replace the missing service here the same way the 107 loops into Georgetown to replace the direct Renton to Georgetown service of the 106. Yes, we’ll turn the 107 into a Community Transit camel route yet.

    1. Under my plan, the portion of Route 101 along MLK would be replaced by extending Routes 148 and 169. Instead of going to Downtown, these skyway riders can transfer to Link at Rainier Beach.

  5. There is one other service design option. That would be to have a loop route that goes on Downtown streets in one direction and through the 99 tunnel in the other. A route could even reverse direction depending on if it was a morning or afternoon commute. This strategy would seem to be quite effective for long-distance express routes to and from the east and south. I don’t have any specific suggestions on which routes should do this, but I thought that it should at least be mentioned as a route design menu item.

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