map showing coverage of Seattle's transit network by frequency, most of the city is covered by 15-minute servuce
September investments bring 10-minute service to much of northeast Seattle (graphic: SDOT)

The footprint of Seattle’s frequent transit network is expanding this September thanks to service investments funded by the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD). Routes 65 and 67 in northeast Seattle and Route 60 connecting Capitol Hill and First Hill with Beacon Hill, Georgetown, and West Seattle are getting a boost in weekday frequency.

SDOT presented its STBD September investments to the City Council’s Sustainability & Transportation Committee last month. The route selection was informed by a Race and Social Justice (RSJ) analysis that SDOT completed in spring. It identified a lack of 10-minute service in northeast Seattle serving low-income & minority communities and infrequent east-west service in south Seattle.

Route 60 joins the Frequent Transit Network with weekday service improved to every 15 minutes or better from 6 am to 7 pm. Currently service runs every 20 minutes midday and every 15 minutes in the peak direction during peak hours. Weekend and evening service remains every half hour. South Park and Georgetown will now have a frequent connection to White Center, Beacon Hill, and beyond.

Metro’s 2016 Service Evaluation report lists Route 60 second among corridors that need investment to meet target service levels. It is also marked as needing schedule reliability improvements.

Routes 65 and 67 are improved to run every 10 minutes or better on weekdays from 6 am to 7 pm, instead of every 15 minutes currently. This brings the 67 up to service levels Metro proposed in its first draft of U-Link Connections. Both routes will have late-night service as part of the night owl overhaul that also begins this September.

That improvement means 64% of Seattle’s households will be within a 10-minute walk to 10-minute transit service, up from 51% last year and surpassing the 2020 goal of 53% three years early. The city is aiming for 72% by 2025.

Another improvement of note is to Route 50 which connects the Rainier Valley with West Seattle via SODO. Service will be improved to every 30 minutes or better for 18 hours a day, every day of the week. Currently the 50 runs hourly after 8 pm on weekdays and all day Sunday.

37 Replies to “SDOT September 2017 Service Investments”

  1. It’s about time. Inadequate service to Alki, a sense residential and commercial neighborhood, has been one of my pet peeves for a long time. I still think Alki could use a frequency boost, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

    1. This will double frequency on route 50 after 8 pm and all day on Sundays. It is a far cry from meeting the demand for bus service to Alki for which route 50’s short buses are totally inadequate.

      Route 128 was proposed to also go to Alki, which would have helped a lot more.

      1. Until the 50s fill up i’m fine with the short buses (and use them regularly). Plus they have the advantage that they can actually make the right turn from admiral onto california (before that they did an annoying left turn before california and looped around). REALLY looking forward to the extended hours! Makes sunday useful and weekday nights useful (if i’m coming home at all late from work i usually end up catching a reach now in the junction rather than a 50 because of the bad frequency… hopefully that’s less common now!). Wouldn’t mind 128 down to alki too.

  2. The map with this post is of peak hour service frequency, right?

    Rapid Rides C & D have 12 minute headways during the day (off-peak).

    1. I think it’s an average of all-day frequency. RR C goes to 12 min midday but is back to 8 min at 3 pm

  3. “Route 60 joins the Frequent Transit Network with weekday service improved to every 15 minutes or better from 6 am to 7 pm”

    Doesn’t the FTN require 15-minute service on Saturday too? That has been Metro’s definition of a frequent route.

    1. One could look at this from a route overlay angle. 15th Ave S gets an average of four buses an hour per direction on weekends, between routes 107 and route 60, which unfortunately are not timed to create roughly 15-minute headway.

      East Georgetown gets an average of four buses per hour on Sundays, and six on Saturdays, heading toward downtown, between routes 60 and 124.

      West Georgetown gets an average of four buses per downtown heading downtown most of the off-peak period and on weekends, between routes 131 and 132. Metro actually tried to interline them, but miscalculated the necessary travel time for each, and hasn’t revisited that miscalculation. If I had a dime for every time the bus sat for 2 minutes so as not to get ahead of schedule…

      South Park has routes 60 and 132 headed toward downtown, roughly four of them per hour on weekends. But they are poorly timed to get anywhere close to 15-minute headway, except for the brief period when route 60 is actually coming every 15 minutes.

      I must confess: Metro got it wrong on 60’s reliability. That is the bus I ride most. I can set my clock by it northbound, and it is on time to the minute most of the times I am trying to catch it south from Beacon Hill Station (to my dismay as I rush out of the elevator that took too long because the doors kept opening for more riders to squeeze in). The only time it has reliability issues is when school is opening or closing.

      David and I have a running argument over whether a bus route serving Link stations outside of downtown is better having 15-minute or 20-minute headway. The investment in more 60 service around school bells has been desperately needed, at least until the new version of route 107 rolled out. But I’m here to tell you route 60 is never full nor more than a few minutes late outside of school bell time.

      I’m all for ramping up frequency on 60 as a Link connector, so I’d rather stick with the 20-minute headway off-peak, go to hyperfrequency during schoolbell peak, and invest in 20-minute headway on weekends. Half the bus empties out at Beacon Hill Station northbound. Most of the southbound ridership on Beacon Hill boards at the station. Its schedule should be designed around Link’s. And route’s 60 and 107 ought to interline better. Alternating a southbound 60 and 107 bus from BHS during off-peak, with one or the other leaving every 10 minutes, would make a far more predictable trip for their riders than having both of those routes running every 15 minutes, and scheduled as if the weren’t two branches on the same trunk.

    2. Also, if SDoT wants to improve reliability on route 60 during the twice-daily period where it gets stuck in school traffic, a more effective way to do so, without a need for funding, is to remove more street parking around Cleveland High School, and give route 60 a short HOV or transit lane. Consider also requiring loading and unloading of private vehicles to occur somewhere other than on the 15th Ave S side of the building. That’s the bottleneck.

    3. King County Metro defines a “frequent all-day route” as “every 15 minutes or less until 6pm Mon–Fri.”
      So, no, 15-minute service on Saturday isn’t required.

      Personally, I think like TriMet’s definition of a “frequent service” is much more legible: “every 15 minutes or better most of the day, every day.”

      1. SDOT’s presentation (linked from the article) also mentions this:
        All current and future
        FTN routes have 30
        minute service or
        better, 7 days a week

      2. I’m glad that’s just sloppy wording in the presentation, referring to the secondary level of evening/weekend service that’s outside the core frequent span. Anything less than 15 minutes should never, ever, ever be called frequent.

  4. If only we could get the entire Metro service change a month in advance and not just what SDOT changes.

  5. The city shouldn’t have bothered forming the TBD. It’s got taxing authority it could have used for transit that is far more progressive than sales tax. It licenses large employers, so it has the right under state law (as a “home rule” city) to tax those large employers. A monthly per-employee, or “percentage of payroll” tax on the largest employers would provide plenty of money for transit upgrades that benefit the large employers. But noooo . . . more sales taxes is what the city council wanted. Sad . . . and frankly abusive.

  6. That big orange space around Delridge Way is a shameful relic of other neighborhoods having greater privilege. Route 120 should stop having to wait for a frequency boost. Unlike all the buses benefiting from this service investment, It is actually SRO most of the time.

    1. Not actually sure of the legalities, but it may be hard for SDOT to use money on the 120 given that a portion of the route is outside seattle proper.

      1. Can’t turn-backs be run between the base Metro-funded service?

        Keep the 15 minute headway to Burien and overlay service to Roxbury.

        Give it another number if necessary.

      2. SDOT has funded a few White Center turnback peak trips on the 120 using Prop 1 funds.

        What is really needed is a bump from 30 minute to 15 minute frequency on Sundays. And even moar peak service – can’t ever get enough.

  7. Still no love for the Fremont Urban Hub. Likewise, NE Seattle seems to be forced towards UW along 35th Ave or Roosevelt instead of improving frequency on Hwy 522 toward downtown.

    1. SDOT isn’t going to fund the 522 because 1) it’s Sound Transit, not Metro and 2) it primarily serves Kenmore, Bothell, and Woodinville, not Seattle. In fact, once 145th St. station opens, the 522 won’t serve Seattle at all.

      1. Yeah, sure, but there is an argument that a bus that serves the SR 522 corridor within Seattle (AKA Lake City Way) makes more sense than what we have. The big problem, as I see it, is that the corridor is great outside of rush hour, but absolutely horrible during it. Both directions. A few years ago, the city added left turn arrows for northbound traffic at 15th NE. In the evening, they help drivers heading north. But the result is that Lake City Way is clogged with traffic both directions in the evening. It is also clogged southbound in the morning (as drivers try to make their way onto I-5). This is why buses avoid a corridor that otherwise would make a lot of sense.

        So they send buses out of their way (to 25th) instead of where everyone lives. This is unfortunate, but I would say a wise choice. Personally, I would like both — I find it frustrating that I can’t just ride a bus a mile or so down Lake City Way. But if I had to choose, I would choose the current 372 routing.

      2. I don’t think asdf2 understood what I was saying, but I think RossB gets it. I was referring to State Route 522, not Sound Transit 522.

      3. That’s definitely a bottleneck, Ross, and has been since they added the peak hour left turn arrow many years ago as there is no room for a turn lane there (and of course, as you mention, it is a huge benefit to all northbound travelers to have the arrow there). It’s actually one of two discontinuities in the bus lanes that now stretch – or could be added – most of the way from Bothell to just north of central Lake City, then beyond to at least 20th NE, the other being central Lake City at and around NE 125th.

        Since LC isn’t going to get the grade-separated rail transit it was supposed to in 1968 any time in my life, the bottleneck in the bus lanes in central LC can really only be solved by a short length of tunnel from about NE 127th south to NE 123rd with a station built with eventual rail in mind underneath 125th. There almost assuredly will someday be a Rapid Ride-type line to and through LC, and this relatively inexpensive (compared to full grade separation on the route) solution could combine with the existing bus-only lanes to provide an actual bus rapid transit line through one of North Seattle’s densest neighborhoods. Whether or not this BRT line extends from UW Bothell or the city limits to Roosevelt Station is up to ST or Metro, but it would leverage already existing dedicated transit separation on most of the route to provide an outstanding rapid bus line. Funding for such a thing is not in ST3, of course, but might be a high cost/benefit item for Metro or the City to have a look at.

        Unfortunately, south of 18th NE or so and LCW there is no solution to the lack of space for dedicated transit lanes without an eminent domain action that will never happen. Rather than detour all the way to 25th as the 372 does now, however, I’d consider using LCW in dedicated lanes all the way to 20th NE, then in general traffic (it’s a low-traffic street that is wide) to NE 65th before turning west to Roosevelt Station. Bus lanes should be provided on NE 65th at least west of 25th NE anyway for crosstown service to the station, so there would be a decent time savings using the quiet 20th NE to get to the Roosevelt area and the Link station there – it’s only .3 miles longer than the most direct possible route via 15th/Roosevelt. (25th to U Village and Husky Stadium station would be fine instead – but only if Montlake is rebuilt with dedicated transit lanes each direction.)

    2. I think the biggest problem with Fremont isn’t the frequency to downtown – the 40 and 62 combine for pretty frequent service (as long as the bridge stays down). The biggest problem I have is that frequency to the U-District and light-rail drops to 30 minutes on Sundays because the 31 doesn’t run. I’d much rather see 15 minute service to the U-District (either via the 31, or a 32 that just turns around in Fremont) 7 days a week than any other frequency boost.

  8. Better. I do take the 65 and the 67, so this will help, but it would be nice if there was at least one 10 min or frequent route east west in North Seattle above 45th and at least one for South Seattle.

    1. Both the 45 and 67 were going to be 10-minute frequent, but hours were pulled at the last minute to resurrect the 71 and make the 73 run all day.

    2. I totally agree with the seeming lack of East-West routes in North Seattle. Instead of the poorly-crafted vertical bars we see in the chart above (particularly in N. Seattle), we should see hub-and-spoke designs coming out from transit centers like Northgate TC and UW (Link Terminus).

  9. Route 5 and E Line provide a good grid system during the day, but during the night I think the E Line is enough. I think Route 5 night trips could use the 5X turnaround loop at 90th St. Also, Magnolia should get some kind of all-night service.

    1. The physical gap between the 5 and E is half a mile with an enormous hill. They’re completely unrelated services.

      The next line moving west is the 28 all the way on 8th NW.

  10. The map is really misleading. Let’s say you are in the north end, at Pinehurst. Specifically, at 125th NE and NE 15th. This is not in the same league as Northgate or Lake City as far as density, but it is way above the average for Northeast Seattle. According to the map, you should have 15 minute or better service. Great.

    So let’s say you want to go to the UW. After all, it is just down the road (a little less than five miles). You check the schedule, and find out that the 73 will take you there … wait for it … every half hour. What about walking over to Roosevelt (only a few blocks away)? Nope, that won’t help. You do, however, have very frequent service to Northgate. Who cares? The number of people heading to Northgate (as their final destination) is minimal compared to those who are heading to the UW. Oh, and what if you are headed to Capitol Hill, or Ballard? Will getting to Northgate help? Not really. Again, you are better off waiting for that (not very frequent) ride on the 73. Oh, and that multi-billion dollar train system that is so popular — surely there is a more frequent bus headed there, right? Wrong. Again, 30 minutes.

    I suppose you could take the 347/348 to Northgate Way (which runs every 15 minutes) and then transfer, but come on. Taking two buses to go five miles (along a straight corridor) means that your effective frequency is way longer than 15 minutes. It is essentially 30 minutes (15 minutes for the first bus, 15 minutes for the second). Oh wait, the 67 runs every 10 minutes now, so the effective frequency is 25 minutes. Yippee.

    I can’t wait for Link to get to Northgate. Hopefully by then they will put in a decent network for the north end, with buses that actually go straight, instead of curving around like someone who is lost.

    1. Here here! In a sense, the 15th Ave NE corridor is the same as the 25th Ave NE corridor (372). They should be thought of in parallel.

      And if you can get a frequent bus – or any bus really – with a lane along the entire 125th/130th corridor (the main street of District 5) which is a legible, straight shot, not yet a complete car sewer, and will actually form a grid in North Seattle, you got something.

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