Route 99 proposal Image: Metro

Tuesday Metro presented a list of proposed services changes slated for next March to members of King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. The proposal includes adding over 50,000 hours of service and eliminating bus Route 99.

As the proposal added service to only one Eastside bus route, Councilmember Claudia Balducci criticized the proposed changes.

“The Eastside took the brunt of the hits during the downturn,” Balducci said during the committee meeting. “And we haven’t seen that service back, yet every time one of these maps comes through, I don’t see it. So where is it? Why don’t we get made whole?”

Balducci said there’s a tremendous amount of demand for bus service east of Lake Washington north and south, and “it seems like pulling teeth to get service.” Councilmember Kathy Lambert echoed Balducci’s remarks.

The proposed changes needing council approval are:

  • Route 74:  Additional trips added between University District and Sand Point portion of the route to provide every 30-minute midday service on weekdays
  • Route 99: Route deleted
  • Route 102/101: Reassigns eight peak Route 101 trips to Route 102, which will add five northbound AM peak period trips and three southbound PM peak period trips to Route 102
  • Route 153: Adding every 30-minute midday service (currently there is no midday service)
  • Route 183: Adding every 30-minute midday service and 60-minute weekday night service (currently there is no night service)
  • Route 930: Additional weekday hours so every 30-minute service extends later into the morning and begins earlier in the afternoon

Once construction begins on the Center City Connector Streetcar, Route 99, which connects Belltown with Chinatown-International District via First Avenue and Pioneer Square, will be pushed off of 1st Avenue.

“When we looked at a variety of alternatives for rerouting, we really weren’t able to find that one that was suitable to serve that area,” said Katie Chalmer, Metro Service Planning Supervisor. “If the waterfront is not available and First Avenue is not available, Third Avenue becomes the next likely candidate. And there is so much richness in transit service already on 3rd Avenue we just didn’t think it didn’t make sense to keep the 99.”

Chalmer added the 99 does serve some unique areas so Metro plans to add a pair of stops on the north end of Route 29 along Broad Street.

Bill Bryant, Service Development Manager director for Metro, said the elimination of Route 99 would be temporary and once construction along the waterfront is finished the agency has “a clear goal and intention to have waterfront transit service that is better than what we had in the past.”

“The Office of the Waterfront, SDOT and Metro all agree once the waterfront is back together it clearly merits good transit,” Bryant said.

Other changes scheduled for March 2018 but are under the threshold needing council approval include adding service hours to Route 150, F Line, 181, 269,156, 5, 24, 31/32 and 30/74EX. The proposed changes will return to the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee before going before the entire council for approval.

60 Replies to “Modest service changes proposed for March 2018”

    1. I’d guess campus parkway. If it went to Link, it would be slower than existing routes with more frequent service (65, 75, 372), so not much point. And, besides, there’s no spare layover space at the Montlake Triangle, anyway.

      The purpose of this route is to get up the hill to the u district from the east, not to connect to Link.

    2. It sounds like they’re resurrecting the 30, and there’s some confusion about the numbering. The 30 ran from Campus Parkway to U-Way, 50th-20th-Ravenna-54th, to 55th and Magnuson Park/NOAA. When it was deleted all off-peak service on 55th disappeared. “Additional service on the 30/74EX”, that must mean more peak-direction runs on the 74X (which is surprisingly very full) and 30 reverse-peak or bidirectional. That would restore the service from before the 2014 cuts.

      I wonder what that means for the long-term fate of the 62. Is Metro having second thoughts about the 62’s Sand Point tail? It is actually quicker to get from Magnuson Park to U-District station on the 30 than Roosevelt Station on the 62, surprisingly. Then there’s the trauma of finding an evening/weekend routing for the 62 that works. And the community pressure to keep the 71. Metro was gung-ho on the 62 and it’s long-term plan makes it RapidRide on the entire current alignment except a slight straightening-out in Tangletown. Is Metro now mulling over a different organization in the eastern part?

      1. I think you’re reading too much into it. The 30 on 55th does not in any way replace the 62 on 65th. And the 30 on 55th should have much of the same layover/turnaround issues as the 62 on 65th. Which probably means you won’t be able to actually ride it all the way to Magnuson Park without getting off and transferring to the 75 (but you’ll still be able to ride to it from there, though).

      2. Why is it surprising that the 74X is full? There are a large number of apartments along 55th but it’s too high-end a neighborhood to be student housing. The folks who use the 74X runs are headed to mid-level office jobs in downtown Seattle without having to make the inconvenient transfer to Link at HSS a mile and a half after they get on the bus.

        It uses Roosevelt/11th between 50th and 42nd and it runs in the tunnel. A premium ride, for sure.

      3. I don’t mean overcrowded; I just mean the bus looks full when it passes. The 74X has been repeatedly increased again and again. It seems like it can never get enough. I’m sure there are a lot of one-seat riders taking the furthest-south express that exists; that’s why Metro left it in place. I’d take a reliable train over a bus that can get stuck in traffic because I’ve had enough of those. I haven’t seen a 74X for several months so I can’t say if it’s as full as it previously was, but presumably it is and that’s why Metro is increasing it (or as Brent says, “reaching its targeted service level”. The minimum service level of peak expresses is zero, so if the level is higher it means Metro thinks it can fill buses to that level.)

      4. I don’t believe Metro has any faith in or commitment to the 62 based on their own treatment of it; the treatment of the tail on evenings/weekends suggests at best utter indifference to the success of the route, and at worst an attempt to undermine it so they have an excuse to cut it in the future. (And this fits with their longstanding hostility to new E-W service.)

      5. Rider Alerts on 35th Ave NE say that 62 won’t be stopping there evenings/weekends anymore, which suggests they have found a layover solution at or near Magnuson.

      6. I’m mainly thinking of east of 35th that might lose the 62.

        “I don’t believe Metro has any faith in or commitment to the 62 based on their own treatment of it”

        That would be a 100% turnaround from Metro’s attitude six months ago when it reaffirmed a 62 RapidRide in the LRP.

        “the treatment of the tail on evenings/weekends suggests at best utter indifference to the success of the route, and at worst an attempt to undermine it so they have an excuse to cut it in the future.”

        No, it suggests that they’re having difficulty finding a routing that doesn’t get sabotaged by evening/weekend events at Magnuson Park overwhelming the street capacity.

        “And this fits with their longstanding hostility to new E-W service.”

        The 62, 75/31/32, and 65/67 are the opposite of hostility. Metro neglected east-west service in the past. It’s making up for it now. 55th was lost because of the cuts, and it was the least-used corridor, but it’s coming back in March. But Metro’s enthusiasm for east-west service hasn’t reached 75th yet, although the 2025 plan has a 30-minute route. (U-District station, U Village, Laurelhurst, SPW, 75th, Roosevelt stn) There are lots of other crosstown routes in the 2025 plan.

    3. The 74X is full?

      These investments are to reached targeted service levels, not to alleviate crowding.

      1. If what you say is true, somebody needs to raise an alarm to the County Council so that it can reduce the targeted service level and redeploy the hours elsewhere.

        While there’s certainly value in keeping frequent service headways on important core lines throughout the day and evening, even in the face of seeming initial disinterest by the public, there is no reason to add peak express service to lightly traveled routes.

        That said, the neighborhood has a LOT of apartments that are too expensive for students. It’s a tunnel bus using 42nd; the only possible congestion that it faces is between 55th and 15th and the 42nd Avenue ramp to the freeway. It’s a very premium service for people living around University Village. I’d be skeptical of an assertion that it’s not heavily used.

        When the tunnel closes, of course, all bets are off. People will probably be happier to take one of the north-south routes that connect to Link at HSS.

      2. It is heavily used. That’s what I’ve seen repeatedly. The service level is based on crowding, maybe not pass-up crowding (although there may well be that), but beyond Metro’s threshold of 25% standees or whatever it is. The 74X has been increased repeatedly because it’s so popular. I thought peak expresses were running empty until I saw it’s the opposite, on the 74X and 218, etc,

        And it’s not a special luxury for 55th. In the U-District restructure Metro increased all the peak expresses starting at 55th and further north, so that nobody would be forced to transfer to Link at Husky Stadium if they didn’t want to or it didn’t work right. This is the pattern until 2021, when everything will be converted to feeders to Link.

  1. Because people stop using and going to the waterfront when there’s construction, and all car access will be shut off as well.

  2. Adding a stop on Route 29 is worthless as a Route 99 replacement. Most of the 99 riders there during rush hour is trying to go SOUTH towards International District/Downtown to make connections to other modes (like LINK and SOUNDER). You also missed mentioning the reroute for Route 101 (route 101 would serve Renton TC on the way to S. Renton P&R and vice versa. Route 101 would terminate at S. Renton P&R instead of Renton TC. No more service on Rainier Ave S. on the 101).

  3. Interesting that adding 30-minute midday service to route 183 takes priority over adding baseline hourly service on Sunday (route 183 does not have any Sunday service) and weekend evenings, putting it on par with local neighborhood routes like 187, 903, and 182 that have good coverage, but not high enough ridership to justify half-hour all-day service (all of them run hourly 7 days with 30-45 minute service at peak, and 187 has service in the beginning of the night on weekdays/Saturday).

    Good on Metro for adding night service on 183. I used to go from Kent to FW weekly, and basically never took the 183 because I was leaving at about 9pm.

    Interesting that they are adding midday service to 153. I wonder if the eventual plan is to combine the 183 and 153 into a trunk route connecting FW to Renton.

    1. I believe 153 and 183 are already through-routed on most runs. Which is probably why they are adding service on both routes.

      1. Undoubtedly. For 183, most trips continue as 153, but for about half the span of service, 183 is on its own once per hour. I’m guessing that now it’ll be every 183 becomes a 153, except for the new night trips on 183.

    2. The midday 153 means direct transit to IKEA. Currently it’s an hourly van or a long walk to the F or Southcenter. I do find it surprising that a Scandinavian company with an eco-friendly-pioneer image has a huge surface parking lot and is oblivious to the transit hole in southwest Renton. “Transit? What is it?” Where’s the multistory garage? Where’s perhaps some mixed-use housing on part of the parking lot? Maybe it’s waiting for the transit.

      I learned during IKEA’s renovation that the old one-story warehouse was an anomaly: they’re usually two stories. But this one was a reused Boeing building so they kept it as it was. I guess that’s recycling sort of.

      1. IKEA does run towns in Scandinavia, as a kind of private municipal services. They could have a small demonstration town on their lot.

      2. I have heard stories of people taking transit there and back, and arranging for delivery of a huge amount of furniture for their fixed delivery fee. For new residents, it’s a great service to have!

        I think lots of mass-produced home goods are mostly moving to Internet mail-order delivery anyway. If I didn’t have the ability to carry large things, I would look at an IKEA visit as a showroom. Oh the smell of cherry-scented sawdust in the morning!

        Over time, I see IKEA quality and price going from inexpensive, well-designed and often well-made to more inexpensive, well-designed but less well-made. It seems to be a reaction to being such a dominant retailer on every continent and needing to compete in poorer economies. Poor people also deserve good design!

        I wouldn’t call IKEA any more transit friendly than any other large retailer. I see it as just another European company, which are generally more socially and economically responsible than American company counterparts. As much as I love transit, I do think there are many elements of corporate responsibility that are more important.

      3. I am so glad to see the midday 153 come back! I also used it to get to IKEA for a number of years and am surprised that it was discontinued since it was usually quite full. The new IKEA location is a bit more of a walk from the 153 stops, but much better than the 150/hourly van connection. Too bad the F-line couldn’t be located closer to that industrial area–would probably serve more people there than it does with the circuitous Tukwila station detour.
        In many European cities IKEA has its own bus service from city centers to its outlying-area stores. Used mostly by students and people who choose not to have cars.

      4. More of its a long walk to either the 150 or 169 or an Hourly wait for 906. You also gotta remember that the area around IKEA is pretty much industrial and corporate parks, which are gonna be transit hostile regardless. I’m happy they’ll be adding service along that route as it will add another way to get to Renton from Kent during the day.

    3. Also amazon has opened an Amazon Fresh facility on 212th and 84th which is an impetus for these changes. Better connections.

  4. Even when the CCC is complete, there’s such a service hole between pike place and belltown.

    I hope the city can come up with something useful to fill that hole…

    Adding a monorail stop in Belltown? Extending a waterfront bus through belltown? Streetcar to Seattle Center?

    Link won’t be going here, so something is needed…

    1. There could be many approaches to improving high-frequency connectivity to Belltown. A strategic, common vision is needed moreso now that ST3 seems to be skipping the area.

      I also hate to see the Battery St tunnel abandoned and filled before a common vision is created. It seems like it could figure into some sort of a automated transit connection. Eliminating that option seems terribly limiting and possibly short-sided.

    2. I agree. How about this:

      Start with the 99, but extend the bus both directions. To the north, go up 1st to Roy. Make 1st bidirectional, or better yet, add a bus-only contraflow lane there.

      At the other end of town, at Jackson, you have a bunch of options. You can follow the 7 to Mount Baker or cut south, like the 36. Better yet, head to MLK, then head south on MLK to Mount Baker. Now you have a bus that connects MLK with Jackson, which is new and much better than the (infrequent) 14.

      That route sounds much better (and much cheaper) than the streetcar or the current 99. That sounds like an all day, 15 minute bus, if not better.

    3. I can’t tell if Route 27 is interlined or not, and I’ve never ridden that route. If it’s not interlined, can it be run down the hill a bit to Western or Elliott somewhere in Belltown as an end loop?

      I really see the big neglect is topographic; getting up and down the hill west of First Avenue is an effort. Saying that people can merely walk to Third is a real cop-out because it doesn’t solve the elevation challenge.

      1. Interlined with Route 33. Which goes through Belltown on it’s way to Discovery Park, so it would be a pretty simple thing to have the combined route use 1st Ave or even Western Ave or right under the viaduct. *something* is needed around there to connect to the ferries and water taxi.

      2. Not interlined with the 33 middays (except Sunday) and somewhat intermittently interlined during the weekday morning and evening rush.

        Moving the 33 to 1st or Western would not be popular with many Magnolians (Magnoliacs?), especially if the 24 was not also moved. Similar problem for those working along Elliott, especially the part not served by Rapid Ride D.

    4. Somebody refresh my memory. Is there trolleywire on First through Belltown? If so, really think we should use the new trolley fleet to run First on wire, then drop poles and cross the tracks to Myrtle Edwards Park and down the Waterfront to Pioneer Square. Running an oblong loop in both directions.


    5. Streetcar to Seattle Center is the ticket. First Avenue car capacity will already be limited by the CCC ROW between Stewart and Jackson, so just continue the service further north to Warren Avenue North and Thomas.

      Crossing Denny would be a problem, but there could be a single-track underpass that drops down using Warren Place between First and Denny Way with a two block, two-track tunnel under Warren Avenue north of there. .

      Eventually the line could go south to Starbucks, along Utah, jogging over from First about where the Viaduct shoo-fly is today. South of Massachusetts split the line with southbound continuing on Utah with northbound on Occidental.

      Yes, yes, say it’s lunacy, but it puts transit in a very up-and-coming neighborhood without getting it stuck in First Avenue South game day traffic.

    6. The CCC plan mentions a possible future phase going north to Belltown and Seattle Center. It would just need to be pursued.

      1. Or simply to run a bus along the future streetcar line. If the bus has center-running doors, it can share the CC streetcar lane & stations along 1st Ave.

        If the bus is successful, can always come back & but in streetcar infrastructure later.

  5. I wonder why route 99 being its own route was even a thing for this long. There is a capacity crisis coming for routes that end downtown, and here route 99 starts and ends in downtown, using up space that other routes could fill, while not being terribly useful itself? I wonder why they didn’t just run a route already going downtown on 1st instead of third, like the 33 (which is going west anyway) or the 62 (which flips between 3rd, 1st, and 2nd avenues for some reason?).

    1. I have always wondered why there isn’t decent bus service down by the Clipper/Bell Street Marina area. Is the Port against it perhaps?

    2. That’s where the Waterfront Streetcar was. It was removed when the Olympic Sculpture Park displaced its maintenance barn, and the county said it would locate a replacement barn but it never did so the train was put in storage. A bus replaced it, the 99. The 99 was moved to 1st Avenue when waterfront construction prevented it from running on Alaskan Way any longer. It had very little ridership on 1st, and was first reduced to hourly, then all-day summer only and peak-only in the winter. That’s the situation now.

  6. Waterfront Transit? Route 99 of the future is already on the boards, so no sweat to start it early. Waterfront Project’s own plan. Buy the fleet of small battery-powered buses the plan envisions. And back them up with as many pedicabs as will fit.

    If more line-haul proves necessary, route some of the new purple and yellow fleet so they’re under wire on the street- can’t remember how much of First still has overhead- and on battery along the Waterfront. Cars? Hopefully temporary, LINK expansion will need some expanded park and ride space.

    Include a ticket to a Waterfront event with every parking fee receipt. Maybe put it on ORCA. Streetcar line will revive, like every solid mode of transit including the New York Subway system, when bus batteries die from traffic immobility, and pedestrians are being shoved into pedicab chains.

    Pretty sure George Benson had seen enough history to know that like leadership, good transit is not imposed, but furiously begged for.

    Mark Dublin

  7. There are a few things that are absolutely urgent for the March 2018 restructure that are not currently planned. I’ll list them below. These are not in any order.

    The first one is the night/weekend tail for Route 62. It is ridiculous right now. Metro should really just have it run both directions on 65th, loop at Radford Dr, and layover at 65th/Sand Point Way. And since there would be full-time service on 65th, Route 71 should move to NE 75th St.

    The second one is service in Laurelhurst. The 78 is not enough for Laurelhurst, and it is redundant to the 65 and 75. Instead of midday 74 trips, there should be a bus going from U District to Laurelhurst via NE 55th. This route can replace Route 78 entirely. This is what such a route would look like:

    The third is midday service on 32nd Ave NW. I think this is even more urgent than service on NE 55th. Riders on NE 55th can easily walk to routes such as the 62, 65, 75, and 372, but riders west of 32nd NW have a very long walk to the 40 on 24th NW. Maybe Route 61 could be restored, but not do the weird loop in South Ballard.

    The fourth is getting rid of ridiculous deviations. They just add unnecessary amounts of time to the travel, and many of them don’t really serve any purpose. Earlier I made an entire page of deviations. Metro should look into each of those deviations and see which ones are logical to keep. The most obvious one is the northbound 26 deviation at East Green Lake. Now there are some good deviations, such as the 65 to Children’s Hospital and the 120 to Westwood Village, but most of the other ones are pointless.

    1. Metro really does have a problem with crazy time-wasting deviations. Why does the 106 need to go through the mount baker transit center? That alone is good for five minutes a trip.

      1. My snarky response says that no one in the region seems to be able to design a transit center, especially an off street one that does not take five to ten minutes of running time to circumnavigate. Now each facility is unique, and has its own issues, but I think any time is a good time to look at combining and consolidating some of these transit facilities and stations, and spending the capital to rebuild or move them as necessary.

      2. The problem isn’t the design of the transit centers. The more over-designed they are, the worse they impact transit trips. Really, they are public-works projects that just make transit slower, and give politicians an opportunity to hold a shovel and then cut a ribbon. Their only utility to transit is layover space.

        They also tend to be designed to wall riders off from the nearby stores with acres of parking who don’t want them as customers. I’ll take a junction like the Alaska Junction over a behemoth walkshed destroyer like Burien Forced Transfer Center, Renton Forced Transfer Center and Federal Way Pedestrian Incarceration Facility any day of the week.

        The problem with transit centers is their very existence.

      3. Brent +1

        You forgot to mention Kent Station, Auburn Station, Auburn Park and Ride, and South Renton Park & Ride, although at least the two train stations serve the utility of a layover location for buses while they wait for passengers de-boarding the trains. Although, an on-road pull-off would be greatly preferred to a circuitous loop for those routes that do pass through. It is time for Metro to just start offering decent connecting neighborhood service instead of park & rides, and, potentially, get into the real estate development industry by leasing out office and commercial space at the train stations.

      4. I believe in the September 2017 service change, the 106 will operate on Rainier Avenue in both directions and serve the stops on Rainier Ave and not operate into the Mt. Baker TC.

    2. 62 – yes, this should be a no-brainer. Probably requires getting SDOT’s approval for a layover zone on NE 65th.

      Lauralhurst – I’m still not convinced that any bus service in Lauralhurst passes cost-benefit muster. The number of people there that rode the old 25 is miniscule, and your proposal is less direct than the old 25 in reaching the UW campus, and doesn’t serve Link at all (until 2021). Nor, do I believe a even a pure coverage route in Lauralhurst is necessary, as most of the area is within a 15-minute walk of frequent service on the 65 and 75 along Sand Point Way, and the tiny sliver of Lauralhurst that isn’t is the wealthiest and most exclusive part of the neighborhood. For people that really need a ride, Lyft and Uber exist as alternatives and anyone that lives in Lauralhurst can easily afford it. On top of all that, the neighborhood streets in Lauralhurst are really too narrow to run any kind of a bus on. The old 25 making those twists and turns was an utter mess.

      All-day service on 32nd. Nice to have. Wouldn’t call it absolutely essential, but certainly much more justifiable than bus service through the residential streets of Lauralhurst. Could probably be had for relatively cheap as an extension of the 45 (now that the 45 is split from the 48).

      Getting rid of ridiculous deviations. Many would probably make marginal difference in actual travel times, but the meaning goes way beyond that. Deviations that are clearly pointless to every person on the bus simply creates the impression that Metro is either incompetent or places essentially zero value on its customers’ time. Fixing the 26 shouldn’t take more than 10 minute for one person in the right position on Metro’s staff (ok, plus another 20 minutes for somebody to drive out there and move the bus stop sign). The extra minute for not fixing it seems tiny at first, but when multiplied by an entire busload of people every single trip, every single day, it adds up fast. And that’s not even including the time of the bus driver.

  8. Why no additional service on the Eastside? Because the Eastside voted underwhelmingly for Prop 1, so you get what you get.

    Interesting timing on improving 153 service to one of my occasional job locations, one month after I plan to quit that job.

    1. The eastside isn’t getting more service because it was overserved to begin with, mostly due to 40/40/20.

    2. Transit service is subsidized by the tax payers. If the eastside buses are more heavily subsidized in comparison to the other areas then the eastside doesn’t deserve more new service than the other areas. Theoretically, if 1,000 hours of transit service in Seattle recovers 50% of the operating cost and 1,000 hours of transit service on the eastside recovers 25% of the operating cost, where should service be expanded? Adding one hour of service on the eastside would cost twice as much in subsidy money compared to adding one hour in Seattle (using the theoretical numbers of my example). Metro could add more service on the eastside but it would suck up 2x as much subsidy as service in Seattle.

  9. “When we looked at a variety of alternatives for rerouting, we really weren’t able to find that one that was suitable to serve that area,” said Katie Chalmer, Metro Service Planning Supervisor. “If the waterfront is not available and First Avenue is not available, Third Avenue becomes the next likely candidate. And there is so much richness in transit service already on 3rd Avenue we just didn’t think it didn’t make sense to keep the 99.”

    “No, we didn’t reflect on what this tells us about the value or importance of the CCC in a world of scarce resources. Why do you ask?”

    1. It is simple: We recognized that a streetcrawler line will only be useful to tourists, so we won’t ever need to add enough capacity to time the schedules to Link, and therefore didn’t need to spend the extra expense on buses with higher capacity than streetcars that could be fungible with the rest of the fleet.

      Also streetcrawlers are scarier enough to cars that it makes it easier to take the lanes, making them available to buses that people will actually ride.

    1. There are changes. The schedules usually come out a week in advance. There have been signs at bus stops for a couple weeks about deleted routes. The night owl reorganization is happening this round. Many people are wondering whether the 65/67 night owl will be time-coordinated with the 49 or 70 night owl so that people won’t have to wait an hour in the U-District to transfer.

  10. This list omits the Center Park Bus. Also going away at the March service change, though not listed in Metros official release.

      1. There is no “South Park” bus, per se, just routes 60 and 132, neither of which are going away in the foreseeable future.

        The Center Park shuttle is a specialty service. I hadn’t heard about it going away.

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