In September, King County Metro route 169, which serves a major business corridor on Kent East Hill, got a serious investment, going from half-hourly all day to running every 15 minutes from 7 am to 6 pm on weekdays.
Its north terminus is Renton Transit Center, from which riders have to transfer to route 101 to get to downtown Seattle, the F Line to get to more of the valley, ST Express 560 to get to the eastside, or route 106 to get to Skyway and Rainier Valley.
Route 101 is a peak-heavy commuter route that drops down to half-hourly off-peak.
Extending route 169 up to Rainier Beach Station could be done in a revenue-neutral manner that would also double frequency for riders living along Sunset Way between downtown Renton and Seattle. Just scavenge the off-peak service hours being used to run route 101 up to and through downtown, and roll them into route 169, with the route continuing on Sunset Way and MLK Way up to Rainier Beach Station.
Such a route restructure will make even more sense when route 101 is streamlined to run directly between Renton Transit Center and downtown Seattle, starting in March 2018.
Making route 169 an all-day connector to Link could also alleviate some of the bus traffic jam that will happen when route 101 leaves the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel forever in 2019.
Route 101 doesn’t have to cease serving downtown, however. For peak commuters, it could become one of several routes that go to the north end of downtown via the Seneca St exit from I-5, and on into the booming South Lake Union business district.
All-day frequent connectivity to the regional light rail system, peak express service to the fastest-growing job center in the state, and improved local connectivity would be a win-win-win for the residents of south Skyway, downtown Renton, and Kent East Hill.