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KCM New Flyer DE60LFR #6087

As of 2016, the RapidRide E Line has higher ridership than any other King County Metro route, averaging approximately 17,000 weekday riders. Because it is such a popular route and runs almost entirely on Aurora Avenue, I think it is an obvious candidate for upgrades to improve capacity and reliability. While interesting ideas about upgrading the E to elevated rail to serve Aurora Avenue, Queen Anne, Belltown, and First Hill have been floated around, such a project would be extremely expensive and is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Because of this, I think bus rapid transit is the best option along Aurora Avenue. To create a good environment for transit ridership along the Aurora corridor, significant pedestrian and bicycle improvements could be made as a part of the project. I’m not an engineer or a transit planner, so I won’t be able to provide cost or trip time estimates for these upgrades, but they should be relatively inexpensive compared to light rail and streetcar projects, and could probably be financed without much help from Sound Transit.

Alignment

When describing the alignment of the new RapidRide E Line, I am assuming that the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Tunnel, Northgate Link, and all associated projects are complete.

Unlike its current iteration, the upgraded RapidRide E Line would lay over and serve a new station at Colman Dock. I’ve always been irritated by Colman Dock’s poor transit accessibility given its status as a major transport hub, and terminating a high capacity service there would definitely solve some of those issues. Of course, building such a station would require significant changes to Colman Dock. Although somewhat far-fetched, a new ferry terminal could be constructed with bus bays at the street level for easy transfers between Washington State ferries, foot ferries, and buses.

From the waterfront, buses would travel along the Columbia Street pathway before turning onto 3rd avenue, serving stations along a transit-only 3rd Avenue. To travel between 3rd Avenue and Aurora Avenue, buses would travel along the left curbs of Battery Street and Wall Street in BAT lanes. Instead of serving the current stops, buses would serve a new station between Wall Street and Aurora Avenue at Denny Way. Buses would travel on center-running lanes along Aurora Avenue, serving an island platform immediately south of Harrison Street, prior to driving onto the SR 99 segment of Aurora Avenue.

This is where it gets tricky. Aurora Avenue is completely devoid of crosswalks between Downtown and 68th Street. Unfortunately, this means that all stations would need to be in the median of the road and served by a pedestrian overpass with ADA accessibility (in other words, a frequently malfunctioning elevator), or buses would have to merge through general traffic to access BAT lanes. I am drafting this under the assumption that Seattleites will be reluctant to pay additional property taxes, so in this version, buses will merge to BAT lanes immediately after entering the center of SR 99 to serve a new station pair at Aloha Street. Although unlikely, it is possible that a traffic signal could be used to aid this merging. I chose Aloha Street because, with a new pedestrian overpass, it could provide an easy pedestrian connection between Lake Union Park, the Seattle Center, and Queen Anne Hill. To compensate for the removal of stops along Aurora Avenue, new ADA-accessible pathways between Aurora Avenue and Dexter Avenue would be constructed.

North of Aloha Street, buses would serve existing stations at Galer Street and Lynn Street before crossing a renovated Aurora Bridge. Widened pedestrian and bicycle paths would be surrounded by some sort of suicide-prevention barrier underneath the existing bridge. In place of the old pedestrian walkway on top of the bridge, a jersey barrier would be erected in the center to prevent traffic collisions. Curbside lanes would be converted to transit-only, except for vehicles entering and exiting at 38th Street. A new station pair would be constructed between 38th Street and Bridge Way to serve the Fremont neighborhood.

North of 38th Street, buses would serve the existing station pair at 46th Street. Unlike the current service pattern northbound and southbound buses would both serve the Linden deviation. To travel between Linden Avenue and Aurora Avenue, buses would use the general purpose access ramps located approximately at 61st Street on either side of Aurora Avenue. The grass median of Woodland Place immediately north of 65th Street would be rebuilt into a station. Linden Avenue would feature all-day BAT lanes instead of parking, with a station pair at 72nd Street.

North of the junction with Linden Avenue, buses would utilize transit-only lanes in the center of Aurora Avenue, with stations built on island platforms between the two lanes. Low barriers could be constructed between general-purpose and transit lanes to improve pedestrian safety and prevent unauthorized encroachment onto the busway. Stations on this stretch of Aurora Avenue would generally be spaced somewhat further apart than they are right now to improve travel times. Center platforms would be built at 77th Street, 85th Street, 90th Street, 97th Street, 105th Street, 115th Street, 125th Street, 130th Street, 137th Street, 145th Street, 152nd Street, 160th Street, 165th Street, 175th Street, 185th Street, and 192nd Street. New crosswalks and traffic signals would be needed for stations at 97th Street and 137th Street.

Instead of terminating at Aurora Village Transit Center as it does now, the RapidRide E Line would extend north into Snohomish County. After serving an island platform at 200th Street, buses would turn left onto 205th Street towards I-5. After briefly traveling in general-purpose lanes, buses would transition into center-running lanes after merging into SR-104, serving an island platform at 76th Avenue. The center-running lanes would extend east of I-5, allowing buses to completely bypass congestion created by vehicles entering and exiting I-5. An access ramp would be tunneled below I-5 and SR-104 to enable traffic merging onto southbound I-5 from the east to do so without crossing the busway. To access the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center, buses would travel in general-purpose lanes on 205th Street, 56th Avenue, and 236th Street, serving stations with bus bulbs at approximately 58th Place and the junction of 56th Avenue and 236th Street. Buses would serve a station and layover at Mountlake Terrace Transit Center to connect with Community Transit routes and the future Lynnwood Link extension. Throughout the route, transit-only lanes would be enforced by traffic cameras. Intersection treatments will vary. Signal priority will be implemented at all intersections except along the Third Avenue Spine and perhaps a few other locations at-grade crossings with other high-capacity transit services exist. In addition to signal priority, left turns will be prohibited at most intersections along center-running segments of the alignment, except where there is no intact street grid and therefore no other way to access certain side roads, as well as a few very high-traffic junctions, such as 85th Street, 105th Street, 145th Street, and 160th Street. More detailed information on intersection treatments is provided in the map, which can be accessed via a link at the bottom of this article.

Vehicles and stations

All station platforms would be edged with yellow textured strips level with the floors of the buses, and all stations would feature ticket vending machines and ORCA card readers to speed boarding, in addition to real-time arrival information. To encourage widespread use of ORCA cards, stations would also be equipped with machines to vend and reload ORCA cards. Bike racks under camera surveillance would be located at all stations. All stations would feature ample seating, well-lit and covered waiting areas, signs that light up at night for higher visibility, and camera surveillance to to promote safety and discourage bicycle theft. To maintain station quality and functionality, all stations would be inspected routinely for malfunctioning signs, ticket vending machines, or ORCA card readers.

To prevent greenhouse emissions, vehicles would make use of hybrid-electric technology or, if possible, run on battery power alone or hydrogen fuel cell technology. Charging or refueling stations could be located at Colman Dock and Mountlake Terrace Transit Center, in addition to whichever bus base the coaches would operate out of. Trolleybuses would obviously not be possible due to the high speeds of travel along Aurora Avenue, especially portions south of 74th Street.

The vehicles would be 60-foot low floor articulated buses similar to existing RapidRide coaches, with some exceptions. Most notably, the vehicles would feature five doors to serve platforms on both sides of the bus. For rider safety, right and left rear view mirrors on buses would be equipped with flashing strobe lights similar to the ones on buses that operate in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Despite the presence of level boarding and off-board fare payment, coaches would still be equipped with ADA ramps, coin slots, and ORCA card readers that would be used in the event of a reroute, off-board fare payment becoming temporarily unavailable at a station, or E Line coaches being assigned to other routes. To prevent service delays and promote bicycle use, coaches would not have front bike racks, instead featuring an on-board storage area in front of the rear left door similar to Swift and RapidRide G Line vehicles.

Potential service changes

Given the very high capacity of the improved RapidRide E line, it would make sense to restructure other bus routes around it to improve connections to other destinations and upzone surrounding areas to take advantage of the newly expanded capacity. One possible project would be to extend Sound Transit’s SR 522/523 BRT past the 145th Street Link station to Shoreline Community College. Stations could be shared between the Aurora Avenue BRT and the Sound Transit BRT at 145th Street, 152nd Street, and 160th Street.

To prevent delays along Aurora Avenue between Downtown and 46th Street, Metro Route 5 could be upgraded to RapidRide and modified to serve only stops also served by the E, interlining all the way to the south end of Downtown, where it would either continue to Colman Dock like the E or be routed via Pioneer Square to an alternative terminal. Alternatively, Route 5 could be rerouted south of 46th Street via Fremont Avenue, the Fremont Bridge, and either Dexter Avenue or Westlake Avenue, perhaps being upgraded to RapidRide.

Of these options, I think the best one would be to upgrade the 5 to RapidRide reroute it to Dexter Avenue, because Dexter is much closer to Aurora Avenue than Westlake Avenue is, and King County Metro’s long range plan has Route 5 running on Dexter by 2040. I think upgrading to RapidRide is justified because Route 5 serves a potentially very busy corridor that includes Shoreline Community College, Greenwood, Phinney Ridge, Fremont, Downtown Seattle, and potentially South Lake Union. BAT lanes could be built along the majority of the corridor, replacing street parking. Like the improved E, the 5 could feature express service, possibly deviating to Aurora via 85th and continuing to Downtown via center-running lanes, similar to the current 355. Perhaps even a second express could be added, operating between 85th Street and 45th Street, much like the current 5 Express. Any improvements to Route 5 would include sidewalk construction and other desperately needed pedestrian improvements on Greenwood Avenue north of 112th street.

Routes 26 and 28 would need to be modified as well. I can think a few options. Route 26 could be eliminated and replaced with heavily modified routes 67 and 316, as illustrated in the 2025 version of Metro’s long range plan. Assuming that the Roosevelt HCT is extended to Northgate via 5th Avenue, Route 67 could be rerouted to serve Latona Avenue and Thackeray Place like the current 26. Instead of continuing to Downtown, the route would instead terminate at the U District Station. Route 316 would operate all day, but would terminate at the Roosevelt Station instead of continuing to Downtown. The Northern terminus of Route 316 would likely be modified as well.

Alternatively, routes 26 and 28 could be rerouted onto Dexter Avenue with peak-direction express service along Aurora Avenue, similar to what was in place before the Spring 2016 service changes. However, this alternative would unnecessarily burn service hours on Routes 26 and 28 south of Fremont. To solve this problem, Routes 26 and 28 could be to terminated or through-routed in Fremont, forcing a transfer at 38th Street. For this to work, Routes 131 and 132 would need to terminate in Downtown Seattle or through-route with other routes. For example, they could be routed through Downtown Seattle to serve South Lake Union via the same route as the RapidRide C and H lines, creating an ultra-frequent connection between the 3rd Avenue Spine and South Lake Union.

A service change that would likely result in an increase in ridership would be the introduction of an “E express” service. The E express would serve the same route as the E line as described above, except that it would skip all stations between 77th Street and Harrison Street, instead traveling via central lanes on Aurora Avenue. This service would run at a high frequency, most likely in peak direction only. If Route 5 was upgraded to RapidRide, peak-direction expresses could operate from Greenwood and Phinney avenues as well. Up to two peak routes could be introduced: a route very similar to the existing 5 Express, and another one much like the current. Toll lanes could be created along Aurora Avenue to keep buses running reliably at high speeds, This concept will be discussed further in the “other infrastructure improvements” section.

Pedestrian and bicycle improvements

To improve pedestrian and bicycle safety and encourage transit ridership, a number of pedestrian and bicycle improvements would be included in the project. Chief among them would be improvements to the Interurban Trail and the creation of a bicycle corridor connecting the Interurban Trail to the Burke Gilman Trail, South Ship Canal Trail, and Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop.

There is currently a missing segment of the Interurban Trail between 240th Street in Edmonds and 200th Street in Shoreline. A new bicycle and pedestrian trail would be constructed along the old railroad right of way, with an overpass over Edmonds Way and 205th Street. Further south, a bicycle and pedestrian overpass would span 175th Street. Instead of bicycle lanes running northbound only on Linden Avenue between 145th Street and 128th Street, a bidirectional protected bikeway along the west side of Linden Avenue would constructed, with no adjacent street parking.

The new bicycle corridor would begin at the junction 110th Street and the Interurban Trail just east of Fremont Avenue. From there, bicycles would travel via protected lanes on 110th Street, Park Avenue, 109th Street, Linden Avenue, and 75th Street. To accommodate parked cars, northbound and southbound lanes would be located on the west side of Linden Avenue between 109th Street and 85th Street. After joining Aurora Avenue at 75th Street, the bike lanes would continue south along the west side of Aurora Avenue in both directions, separated from traffic by Jersey barriers. Bike lanes would deviate from Aurora Avenue at 59th Street to intersect with pedestrian bridges over Aurora Avenue in Woodland Park. Immediately north of 50th Street, the exclusive bicycle path would veer west along the north side of 50th Street before transitioning to protected lanes along Fremont Avenue. The protected lanes would continue south along Fremont Avenue all the way to the Fremont Bridge, connecting with the aforementioned network of trails converging there.

To improve ADA accessibility and compensate for the loss of bus stops served by Route 5 along Aurora Avenue, new ADA-accessible pathways between Aurora Avenue and Dexter Avenue would be created, possibly including escalators or (preferably) switchbacked ramps. For more information, refer to the map.

Other infrastructure improvements

All segments of road along the regular E Line route would be repaved with high-strength concrete for improved durability.

To enable the reliable operation of express services, restricted lanes could be put into place along Aurora Avenue south of Green Lake. One option would be variable-rate express toll lanes similar to the ones on I-405. However, the Aurora Avenue toll lanes would differ from the I-405 toll lanes in two ways. Most notably, the lanes would only be tolled in peak direction during peak hours, becoming general-purpose lanes at all other times. Because Aurora Avenue is only six lanes wide, only one lane in each direction would be converted to a peak toll lane. These lanes would be paved with high-strength concrete to withstand heavy bus traffic during rush hour.

To prevent head-on collisions, jersey barriers would be installed between 63rd Street and 50th Street and on the Aurora Bridge. To make room for the jersey barriers, the roadway would be widened slightly through Woodland Park. On the Aurora Bridge, the walkways on the deck of the bridge would be eliminated and replaced with widened bicycle and pedestrian paths suspended below the bridge. The paths would be enclosed by suicide prevention barriers.

Maps

53 Replies to “Aurora corridor improvements”

  1. One thing that I forgot to mention in the post: although far-fetched, a gondola could be built between the station at 38th Street and the Fremont Bridge area to provide a better, more accessible connection.

  2. Interesting to read because I also ride the E. These all seem like good ideas, and I’d love if metro actually put them in action, but I’m not sure if you could do center lane all the way from 75th to 145th. Between 75th to 115th there are six lanes, but I’m not sure if there’d be enough right of way to include stations in the center. After 115th (NB) there’s only two lanes with some space for parking, so you couldnt fit a bus only lane without completely changing the road.

    1. If I remember correctly, the parking lanes are actually peak BAT lanes, which could be converted to general-purpose lanes pretty easily. To make room for the stations the center left turn lane could be repurposed, since most left turns would be illegal between West Green Lake and Aurora Village. Accommodating left turns at high-traffic intersections like 85th and 145th would be tricky. I was thinking maybe stations at those intersections could be spaced away from the intersection and about six feet of ROW on either side of the road could be purchased by the city to make room.

      1. Yeah, true, you could do that with turn lanes. But I doubt using parking lanes north of 115th would work-they aren’t marked as BAT and do not have the spaces for buses (currently buses just travel in mixed traffic). Here a link for reference: https://www.google.com/maps/@47.7209379,-122.3450494,3a,75y,203.51h,85.37t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sANX1eI-BoWijh3Hxynpp_A!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo0.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DANX1eI-BoWijh3Hxynpp_A%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D102.13948%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656

      2. Maybe we we could market it as: “The proposal is to RESTORE THE GENERAL-PURPOSE LANES that were turned into peak BAT lanes in 2012, and implement bus rapid transit in exclusive center lanes.”

    2. There are some issues with center lanes with center platforms.

      One big one is of course that vehicles would need left-handed doors unless the lanes were “contra-flow” to the direction of the mainline traffic that they parallel.

      A second is that the ways that any other buses stop on Aurora would all be affected. They would need left-handed doors as well.

      A third one is how people get on and off a bus. Will they jaywalk? Will there be more dangerous pedestrian maneuvers? Is it worth the cost and access hassle to build center recessed stations at some intersections so that pedestrians can walk to the stops without crossing a busy street? Will people see an approaching bus on Aurora or when transferring to an east-west street and risk running against the walk signal (which happens often on MLK at Link stations today)?

      1. 1) We are going to buy a fleet of buses with doors on both sides. But buying a bunch more to support what is obviously an expensive line (with lots of buses in service at the same time) could add up. I’m not sure it is worth it, unless it ran through downtown that way (e. g. via the streetcar line).

        2) Other buses could also just make regular stops in general purpose traffic. That weakens the value of the center lanes, though, which is why they really should be viewed as either a key corridor that is exclusively (or almost exclusively) used by a single bus route (e. g. Madison BRT) or a common central corridor shared by RapidRide buses (e. g. the streetcar path downtown). You wouldn’t want to have Elliot be center running, for example, because if you did, a lot of buses (15, 17, 18, 24, 33) wouldn’t be able to take advantage of it.

        3) You only do it if you can build center recessed stations. It is more expensive, and takes more room. You basically need an extra lane, just for bus stops. For a bus, fast street like Aurora, you have the issue you mentioned. Do you expect people to stop? That is really dangerous if you are are talking about more than one lane each direction (Seattle doesn’t have crosswalks without signals if there are more than one lane each direction). So that means what, exactly? A crosswalk signal just to get to the bus stop?

        I’m with you, Al, I don’t think it will work, or be it worth it for Aurora. It is worth mentioning that both 1st and Madison will be one lane each direction for cars when the transit improvement is done. Speeds are relatively low as well, and it is a very urban environment, where folks are used to seeing lots of pedestrians, and aren’t going very far on that street. This is in contrast to Aurora, which is literally a highway, and often used as an alternative to I-5.

    3. Instead of making riders wait in an unpleasant center median, I’d suggest creating a bus version like the cycle track on Broadway. In other words, picking one side or Aurora for buses.

      1. It would mean the riders can get to or from half of the stops (or desired destinations) without ever crossing Aurora traffic.
      2. It would let Metro install crosstown route bus stops on the same side of Aurora as the track, so transferring riders wouldn’t have to cross Aurora at all.
      3. The need to install center platforms would go away, as the sidewalk could be incorporated to stops in the outer edge direction.
      4. With a sound buffer to mainline Aurora traffic, the stops could be much more pleasant.

      1. You mean both buses on one side of the road? I suppose that could work.

        With any cycle track type system, you need to spend a lot of work dealing with turning cars. On Broadway, from what I can tell, they just hope that drivers show good sense, and take the right turn slowly. They also assume that bikers are going to go slow (close to pedestrian speed) which means that someone who turns right basically just treats the bike lane like a crosswalk.

        On Second Avenue, they do things differently. You aren’t allowed to just take a left turn and cut across the cycle track — there is a left turn only light (https://goo.gl/maps/QMP9PreYyaE2). You do have the issue of driveways, which as far as I can tell are just treated like turns on Broadway (everyone is supposed to be careful).

        The thing is, with bikes, there is value in having the bikes run next to each other. It gives you a bit more room to build a barrier. With buses, it is the opposite. If the buses are both running on one side of the street, you need to have special bus stops. You still have the issue with turns. The only benefit I see is that you only have to do that on one side of the street.

        Personally, I think you can do a cycle track type thing, but on both sides. Simply reserve the far right lane (in both directions) for buses. If you need to turn right, you have to cut in front of a bus. Obviously this is dangerous, but I think you can handle the intersections the way that bike traffic is handled on Second. Just have right turn lights, with cars only allowed to make a right with the light. Smart signaling would be essential for this to work. If a bus is coming, the right arrow is red. If there is no bus, then you can turn right.

        With driveways, you have a couple choices. One is to simply allow a car to turn in front of the bus lane. This seems inherently dangerous. A driver has to check for a bus, and check for pedestrians. That being said, buses along Aurora don’t come that often (five to ten minutes) so as long as people show some sense, it seems like that could work. A few signs saying “Yield to buses and pedestrians” might do it.

        Another option is to simply allow people to use the BAT lane, but only if they are accessing a driveway. That means that it isn’t that different than it is now. At worse you have a few scofflaws that forget the new rules, and the situation is no different than it is today. The main thing is, you wouldn’t have a build up of cars in that right lane at the intersection — or if you did, it would be very easy to ticket them.

        That seems like a pretty easy fix. You wouldn’t need new buses, or new bus stops. All you need is no traffic lights (with right turn only signals) some paint for the street, and a lot of signage. More than anything, it would be an educational effort, as this would be a big change. Instead of taking a right from the right turn lane, you take it from the next to right turn lane.

        In any event, I don’t know if anyone is doing that. This is all napkin style planning, and there may be issues I didn’t think about. It also is possible that on Aurora, this isn’t the main problem. Downtown, though, it could be, and that is where work like this could pay off, and also be easier to understand. Folks there are already used to a bunch of rules that seem to keep changing. Only an expert driver should venture downtown anyway. Driving speeds are slow, and the idea of having a reserved lane, and taking turns accordingly is nothing new.

  3. Good post. Some thoughts:

    Improving the Aurora bridge would cost a lot of money. I doubt they will do anything for a long time.

    Getting from center running lanes northbound downtown to SR 99 should be easy. The northbound ramp goes from 2 lanes to 1 lane before the merge (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Viaduct/Media/Default/-NewDocuments/FutureAccess/North/SimWithLabels.JPG). So if the bus is running in a center transit-only lane (to the left of the general purpose lane) it would simply merge into the other lane, then merge into SR 99 northbound in the right lane.

    A bigger problem I see (if I’m reading that map correctly) is that southbound SR 99 to southbound Aurora will require a left hand exit. That means that after Galer (a bus stop on the right) a bus has to move all the way over. The first bus stop would be Harrison, meaning no stops between Harrison and Galer. I believe Link will add a stop at Mercer, making that connection worse. A bus could exit to the right at Mercer (from what I can tell) and then go down 6th, and over on Harrison. That would enable a southbound stop closer to Mercer. The whole thing sounds very messy, and I honestly don’t know what they have in mind. Hopefully the transit people have talked to WSDOT, otherwise things could be worse than they are now.

    Anyway, some other thoughts: I’m surprised you didn’t discuss adding a bus stop here: https://goo.gl/maps/MTVjxfwcEx42 to avoid the Linden detour. That would mean an extra five minutes of walking for someone to get over to 65th, but a lot less time spent on the bus for those headed north. Better yet, add a bus stop here: https://goo.gl/maps/uHKSJBKs6P92. That would require a lot more work. You would need to add another signalized crosswalk along with some pavement connecting that spot to the Green Lake path (ADA). Either way, though, it seems like if we are talking about stop diets, getting rid of those on Linden would be a good first step.

    As far as a stop at the north end of the Aurora Bridge (roughly 38th) it has been talked about quite a bit here. I believe there was a post about it, but I can’t find it. It turns out it is a bit tricky to carve one out there. Building an elevator would be a lot more expensive. I don’t remember all the issues, but I think ADA compliance is one of them. While it wouldn’t be ideal, I could easily see a bus stop here: https://goo.gl/maps/yxaJH3YsDun and here: https://goo.gl/maps/qB1eqYQkJyQ2. Aside from issues involving the width of the road, there is an issue southbound. I’m not sure if there is enough room for it to accelerate and merge into the next lane. If it uses that left “lane” (which isn’t even a lane currently) it could be a safety hazard with merging cars.

    It is interesting that a while back, Bruce didn’t like the Lynn and Galer stops. https://seattletransitblog.com/2012/07/10/metro-proposes-making-the-e-line-slower/. The data on those stops may have changed, but I think he has a decent argument. They are served by the 5. He also calls for a stop diet similar to what you have in mind. With all of that in place, I don’t think you really need an “express”. You need 100% off board payment and level boarding and just a few less stops all day.

    Finally, I don’t think it makes much sense to send the E over to Mountlake Terrace. There is nothing there but a Link Station. Swift will make a connection between Aurora and Link at 185th, and that should suffice for that purpose. The line is very long as it is, and making it longer would make schedules even less reliable. There already is a bus line (in Snohomish County) that connects the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center to Aurora Village, and I think that is enough. Worse case scenario someone has to make an extra transfer, but with the fairly frequent service of Swift, the E and Link, that shouldn’t be a problem. In many cases, a three seat ride would be faster, especially as we build out the east-west bus routes. If I’m headed to 115th and Aurora from Lynnwood for example, it is probably fastest for me if I stay on the train until 130th, then catch a bus over to Aurora, then catch the E southbound. Having a series of ‘L’ shaped buses that go along Aurora and then cut over to a Link Station would be great, but it would end up making it difficult to just keep going up Aurora (which is what makes the E so popular right now). If you had a bunch of them overlapping, then it ends up costing a lot of extra money.

  4. A long route with ridership this high is a good candidate for augmenting it by having some shorter routes that get riders more quickly to Link than having to go to Downtown Seattle to use it.

    More specifically, I think a reasonable case could be made to route half of the buses north of Greenlake to the Roosevelt Station. It could have a new RapidRide letter.

    Some buses should also end at 185th Link to the north. There are a ton of destinations on or near Aurora that could be served better by a single-seat ride to Link in Shoreline.

    Why do this? It would save driver hours and that would allow Metro to increase frequencies even more — making a two-line strategy more acceptable.

    1. It is very tempting to make a lot of ‘L’ shaped routes, but there are a lot of problems with that, depending on how you try and accomplish it. Consider your first idea, which is to send half the buses to Green Lake.

      That means 20 minute headways if you are just trying to go down Aurora (from, say, 105th to 45th). One thing that has allowed ridership to flourish on the E is the fact that it is simple and very frequent. It just goes up and down Aurora, all day long, all the time. This would change that.

      Then there are the folks who just want to hunker down once they are on the bus. It is probably faster for a lot of people on the 7 to walk over and take Link at Mount Baker. But they don’t bother, because the 7 will eventually get them there. With this split of the E they can still do that, but they have half the headways.

      Another problem is that service along the 85th corridor to Roosevelt Station (currently served by the 45) would be inconsistent. The 45 runs every 15 minutes. This new run is every 20 minutes. Once in a while a rider gets lucky, but quite often their trip is no more frequent.

      This also doesn’t serve the entire western corridor of the 45. This is a problem, if you tried to time everything better. For example, you could run the 45 opposite this new bus, which means 10 minute headways (and an actual savings for the 45). Except now it takes even longer to get to Greenwood from Roosevelt.

      Meanwhile, it is slower to downtown. It takes 15 minutes for the 45 to get from Greenwood to Roosevelt. By that time the regular E is very close to Denny. By the time you get on Link in Roosevelt, the regular E is downtown. So this change would benefit people who are headed to Roosevelt, the U-District and Capitol Hill, but that is about it. Those headed to Belltown or South Lake Union are really out of luck with this change. Instead of the 10 minute all day service, they have to choose between a transfer that costs them a lot of time (and likely a lot of walking) or a bus that comes every 20 minutes.

      Now, imagine instead we just put extra service into the 45 — a couple extra runs an hour and you have 10 minute headways. Now a lot more people benefit. If you are headed to Link from north Aurora, you have to make a transfer, but the transfer is better than it is today. Since the 45 goes right to the U-District, the primary destination is covered (it is a two seat ride, as it would be with your proposal). Meanwhile, folks who are trying to get to Greenwood or Crown Hill from Roosevelt come out way ahead, because the maximum wait time is less. The same is true for people headed to the north end of Ballard, Phinney Ridge, or the west end of Green Lake.

      Of course simply adding service is not revenue neutral (and you proposed an idea that was). But the same dynamic occurs if you start adding service for a new ‘L’ shaped routes. Imagine if you keep the E exactly the same, but just add a bus that is just like the one we discussed (Aurora Village to 85th to Roosevelt). That is probably as expensive as the 45, if not more so. I proposed an extra couple runs of the 45, so assume an extra couple runs of this bus. That means running it every half hour. Now we are back to the fact that it doesn’t complement the existing 45. In fact the situation is worse, since it comes every half hour (and is thus less likely to come inside the regular 15 minute window of the 45). It doesn’t help the E very much, because again, it can’t be timed. Two extra runs on the E could drop headways to 7.5 minutes, but this won’t. Like before, it doesn’t help people get to Greenwood (or Phinney Ridge) and still requires a two seat ride to get to the UW. All of this for a half hour bus. A lot of people will simply ignore this bus, and just make the transfer.

      This is all a very long way of saying that it is very difficult for a several reasons:

      1) You want your buses to come at regular intervals. It is very difficult to do that if you are dealing with two different important corridors.

      2) Aurora does not sit at the far end of the line, where ‘L’ shaped routes make a lot of sense. You are only benefiting a subset of riders who would otherwise benefit from increased headways along that corridor.

      3) Cutting over isn’t always faster.

      Of course some ‘L’ shaped routes make sense. Swift heading to 185th is a great example. Aurora Village is a minor destination — it is primarily a transfer point. Heading over to 185th *for all the buses* costs them some money, but everyone comes out ahead. You don’t really have any of the issues because the existing bus doesn’t go downtown, nor will it overlap an important existing corridor. It will overlap part of Aurora, but a very short, fast part. It will overlap with the 348, but only a small part of it, and that is a half hour bus. You could make the case that we should just boost the 348, but you would still need to extend Swift down to 185th and from there, it isn’t that far over to the station. Besides, the 348 corridor is just not that important (which is why it has half hour only service). It is nowhere near as densely populated, nor does it connect to nearly as many destinations as the 45.

      In terms of other corridors, the only two that would make sense are 145th and 130th. Neither is close to downtown, nor an important existing corridor. The thing is, the alternatives are better. A bus from Lake City to Greenwood Avenue makes a lot of sense, even if it only goes that far. That means 130th is covered.

      So that basically leaves riders between 185th and 130th who would benefit. That is a pretty small segment, and most of those people are close to 145th. You are probably better off just running a bus (or likely extending a bus) from 145th and Greenwood over to the 145th station.

      I think Swift will be the only bus that runs down Aurora, and then takes a turn to head over to Link.

      1. Stuff like the 301 will probably cut over to Link too, since the current route does that. Question would be:

        1. Increase service on the existing loop?

        2. Cross I-5 and combine it with a similar feeder over there?

        3. Something else?

      2. >> Stuff like the 301 will probably cut over to Link too, since the current route does that.

        Yes, absolutely. I thought of that, but forgot to mention it (I’m afraid my comment was so long, I lost track). But yeah, the express buses that go downtown (from lots of places in the north) should instead cut over to connect to Link.

        I don’t think it is obvious what exactly to do, though. There are a bunch of bus routes relatively close to the 185th station, and a lot of them could be truncated or combined into something better, but I’m not sure exactly what.

    2. Frankly, I think the system connection challenge between Aurora and Link on I-5 has never been discussed enough.

      – RapidRide designs were pretty dismissive of future Link stations.

      – Earlier Lynnwood Link planning was presented as a choice between Aurora and I-5. ST did not formally consider how to take advantage of the two lines of Northgate Link, and branching one of those lines off to terminate at a station on Aurora in far north Seattle or Shoreline.

      – I’m not sure but I don’t think connecting to RapidRide was ever considered in the Lynnwood Link feasibility planning. Each operator did things on their own.

      I’m sure there are different ways to connect the corridors more effectively north of Fremont than making a double transfer. I also expect public pressure will grow to do this once Northgate Link opens.

      For a creative exercise, consider how an aerial Link branch at 175th to create an end-of-line station at 175th/Aurora for one of the lines would have made a huge impact. The TOD, RapidRide and Swift possibilities would have been amazing!

      1. It does need to be discussed more, and all bus feeders should have been discussed much earlier (meaning Metro should have had a long-range plan in 2007), but this is an intrinsic problem of parallel corridors. Swift has the same problem, and you can’t take Swift to Lynnwood Transit Center. Making it do so would contradict the main purpose of the route, which is north-south travel along 99, which happens to be Community Transit’s highest-ridership corridor.

        “RapidRide designs were pretty dismissive of future Link stations.”

        No, the question is what is the E’s purpose. The E is a grid route, and like the most successful transit corridors it has a lot of people making overlapping trips all along it. I’ve watched many times how many people get on and off where between downtown and Aurora Village. There’s a spike at 46th peak hours (a hidden 45th-corridor express), but other than that it’s onesies and twosies all the way in both directions. No matter where you split it, it will help some trips and break others, and it will harm the unity of Aurora mobility and the simplicity of the frequent grid which we’re trying to promote.

        Everyone who moves to Aurora knows it’s parallel to Link and you can’t get there from here except on crosstown routes. The solution is plentiful frequent crosstown routes, so that many people can walk to them and only a few have to take the E to them. The corridors are obvious: 45th, 65th, 85th, 105th, 130th, 145th, 155th, 175th, `185th, and 200th, and Metro has suggestions for all of them.

        185th Station is more ambiguous. Swift will go to it straightforwardly. The E could be extended to it or Mountlake Terrace, or it could skip everything north of 185th, but Metro’s LRP has neither. That may or may not be a flaw; I don’t know enough about Shoreline’s travel patterns to say for certain. One major issue is that people continuing north or south should be able to transfer between the E and Swift on Aurora at the same stop, and the LRP does this. For this reason, Swift must go south on Aurora and turn east on 185th, as it will. the E should continue north on 185th and meander around to a station somehow. Or the E could turn east on 185th, but that would have the negative impact of forcing people who are continuing to endure two turns and cross the street to transfer, or go all the way to the station and backtrack.

        “I don’t think connecting to RapidRide was ever considered in the Lynnwood Link feasibility planning.”

        Sound Transit took it as Metro’s and CT’s responsibility. They probably put basic concepts in the EIS, such as “N buses per hour to X corridor”. At least they did in some of the recent EISes and I’ve heard it’s a requirement.

        “ST did not formally consider … branching one of those lines off to terminate at a station on Aurora in far north Seattle or Shoreline… “ST did not formally consider how to take advantage of the two lines of Northgate Link, and branching one of those lines off to terminate at a station on Aurora in far north Seattle or Shoreline.”

        There are two things we can do: discuss ideals, or make pragmatic time-appropriate recommendations. As an ideal, maybe, if we can reconcile other circulation issues like 185th being more of Shoreline’s “center” and the way to Richmond Beach, and 10-block station spacing being too close for Shoreline. But as a pragmatic, the time to suggest this was back when ST was drawing up ST2, and I did not hear any activist suggest it until now. In any case, ST thinks it needs 2-line capacity to Lynnwood.

        Are there any suggestions to better connect northwest Seattle and Shoreline to Link without modifying the E or requiring a 3-seat ride?

      2. Yes, absolutely, it would have been great if Link cut over to Aurora, but that ship has sailed.

        For now, Swift will make the best connection, which will be at 185th. That means everyone north of 185th (theoretically all the way up to Everett) will be able to connect over to Link.

        North of 185th, another ‘L’ that cuts over to Lynnwood could work, but I doubt it is worth it. The major streets already have bus service, and that is where most of the stops are. There would be no need to travel down 99 and then over to I-5, you would just board a bus heading east.

        South of 185th, you have similar issues. A lot of people who board live close to the east-west arterials. At least, that was the case a few years ago: https://i0.wp.com/seattletransitblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/king_county_metro_358.png?ssl=1. The bus stops that stand out (outside downtown and Aurora Village) are 145th, 130th, Northgate Way (105th), 85th, 46th. All of these have, or will have, frequent bus service. This means that a lot of riders won’t even use the E (I expect ridership to go down a bit) as folks gravitate to Link. It would be silly to tell those riders that they should put with worse headways so that their frequent east-west connection can spend a little extra time on Aurora (picking up relatively few people).

        But consider possible ‘L’ routes south of 185th. South of 130th, it doesn’t make sense as a means to get downtown — staying on the bus is faster. South of 130th, it also isn’t that great as a means to the UW, partly because Link doesn’t cover every part of the U-District. If you are at 95th and Aurora, and headed towards Campus Parkway, then the E followed by the 45 is about as good as you are going to get.

        This dynamic really cuts into the potential riders. You are talking about two sets of riders. The first are those who:

        1) Are headed downtown.
        2) Are south of 185th, but north of 130th.
        3) Are not boarding close to 130th or 145th.

        There is another set:

        1) Are headed to the U-District or Capitol Hill.
        2) Are south of 185th
        3) Are not boarding close to the east-west streets (130th, 145th, 105th, 85th).

        That just doesn’t sound like a huge number of people, even when you combine the two groups. Even worse, there is no way that one bus can cover both groups. If a bus cuts over at 85th, you lose everyone who is just heading downtown. If the bus cuts over at 145th, you lose folks between 145th and 85th. So basically this is two bus routes, neither one of which is really that big.

        I just don’t see a major investment — a RapidRide type investment — in that kind of route making sense.

      3. @Mike — I am in complete agreement. We need to trust the grid, even though it is flawed. The thing is, from a ridership standpoint it really isn’t that bad. There aren’t nearly as many east-west lines as you want (due to our tough geography) but as it turns out, ridership is largely around the major east-west arterials. In many cases, there simply aren’t bus stops at other places. There are no east-west buses at 55th or 60th, but there aren’t any bus stops there either. There are places (90th, 95th, 100th, 110th) where we won’t have east-west lines, but those have relatively few riders.

        The great thing is that Swift will solve two problems at once. It will provide riders north of 185th with a connection to Link. It will also extend the one seat ride along SR 99. By having an overlap, you make life easier for some riders. Even better, for those who are transferring to head farther up, it is an easier transfer. Right now a trip from say, 145th and Aurora up to Edmonds Community College requires a transfer at Aurora Village, which is considerably out of the way. With this change, a rider will simply get off the E (at any stop between 185th and the county line) and get on Swift. It also won’t cost very much. It really isn’t that far from the border to the station at 185th.

      4. The value of a gridded system when applied to this reality has a few issues:

        1. Frequency. 30-minute headways are pretty useless in a grid system, especially when set up for the minor movements like the east-west one here. Unfortunately, the cross-town routes are generally designed to not attract many riders and they will be like Route 50 is today.

        2. North-south commercial districts. Aurora is a commercial strip for much of its length north of Green Lake. There are many supermarket, drug stores and other important community-focused businesses. In contrast, many of the east-west streets have little to no commercial activity. For transit, that means that it’s easy to go between businesses, but going between residential areas and a business not on the east-west corridor that you’re on will require a transfer. That’s pretty unpleasant when the business has free parking and a person can drive to a store and shop and get back home in less amount of time it would take to board two buses to just get to the store.

        At some point, some sort of L-shaped route or C-shaped route or maybe even a Shoreline “loop route” that uses Aurora for some length would better serve residents than a mere east-west route in Shoreline — serving both local trips as well as direct trips to Link.

        I looked at Metro’s long-range vision, and I see that Metro is routing serveral crosstown buses onto streets parallel to Aurora to reach Link stations. There are also several conceptual “tall C” routes that hit two Link stations. However, many of these mostly serve residential areas so they will be doomed to low ridership demand like Route 50 is in South Seattle. Also, there are other routes that generally ignore of getting to Link, even having end points that are at historic locations with no facilities — rather than end at Link stations where there are facilities for drivers. I don’t think Metro views this plan as cast in stone, however, so it shouldn’t be taken too literally.

        I’m not about to get into the weeds of route restructuring. That kind of thing takes lots of work with community groups and close study of ridership patterns and loads. There may even be new land uses that are deemed worthy to serve better. However, I am saying that Aurora demand is high enough to have both frequent RapidRide E service as well as other routes run along it that would also reach a Link station. Whether it’s another Rapid Ride route for the entirety of Aurora north of Green Lake or whether crosstown routes are given at least a mile or two on Aurora (as well as hit Link stations), Metro would serve riders on Aurora better if they didn’t rely solely on a pure grid system.

      5. One more thought: Shoreline is proposing higher-density TODs at its stations. Northgate has a robust TOD effort actively underway. Even Roosevelt and U-District stations have had some upzoning. Shouldn’t we consider the merits of serving those TODs better with Metro buses in addition to Link? If the TOD is residential, those people will need to shop and Aurora is one of the closest major shopping areas.

        Do you want to make those new hopefully car-free TOD residents transfer to shop on Aurora when the store is less than 2 miles away?

        Do you want people going to jobs at a Link TOD have to transfer if they live less than two miles away?

      6. As to your points:

        1) Frequency. That is exactly why we should embrace the grid. One of the big benefits of a grid is that it leads to much better headways. One of the striking things about Davis Lawson’s proposal (seattletransitblog.com/2013/08/19/your-bus-much-more-often-no-more-money-really/) is that it enables much better headways *for no more money*.

        If we start building a bunch of ‘L’ shaped bus routes, it would mean less frequency. If you send half the E buses over to Link, that means only 20 minutes headways down Aurora. That is a major degradation, and pretty much kills the reason it is so popular. Another possibility is that you cut into the east-west service. For example, consider a bus that starts at the 145th station, and heads west on 145th. It continues past Aurora, and ends at 145th and Greenwood Avenue (thus connecting it to the 5 as well as businesses and restaurants there). If the same bus instead takes a turn on Aurora, and heads up to 185th, it runs less often. Worse yet, it manages to leave the Greenwood corridor without a connection to Link. If you split the difference (run both buses) you have much worse headways, and no one wins. Running both buses every 20 minutes will not be as popular than if you simply run the Greenwood version every 10 minutes. Oh, and running the Greenwood version every ten minutes is actually cheaper.

        2) Aurora has plenty of commercial districts, but Greenwood does as well. It doesn’t make sense to shortchange the Greenwood area only to benefit the relatively small number of folks that an ‘L’ would benefit. You would also hurt riders headed to Ingraham if you shortchanged an east-west line along 130th so that you can head up Aurora.

        Second Comment) Aurora isn’t the only commercial corridor in the north end. Northgate itself has plenty of places to eat, drink and shop. Same with Roosevelt. 130th and 145th — at least by the freeway — don’t. But there are also plenty of businesses in Lake City, Pinehurst, and in Greenwood. By all means we should increase east-west service so that folks can get over to Aurora. But then what? What if you want to visit a store that is at 130th and Aurora, and you live at 145th, next to the train station? Are we going to run lines that go across 145th and then south as well? One of the key elements of a true grid is that you can get anywhere with one transfer. That won’t actually be possible (we don’t have enough east-west lines) but it will be true for anyone who lives close to an east-west corridor (including those who live close to a station). Meanwhile, those who live near the 145th station, and want to go to Aurora will have a one seat ride as long as they are headed close to 145th.

        I would feel differently about this if Aurora was the westernmost corridor. It isn’t. While it is way more important than Greenwood, Greenwood is important as well. It doesn’t make sense to shortchange Greenwood (or the entire network) just to reduce the number of transfers for a relatively small number of riders. Again, an ‘L’ would only benefit those who are heading to or from a stop that is *not* next to an east-west corridor.

        It really comes down to transfers versus headways. You can’t have both. Right now if you live in Lake City, and want to get to Aurora — anywhere on Aurora — it is a huge pain. This is Lake City we are talking about — an area with more density than any other community in the north end. Lake City, by the way, has excellent transit in general, so it is striking how terrible it is to Aurora. The biggest reason for this is because the buses are designed to reduce transfers. They have picked the most popular trips (Lake City to Northgate, Lake City to downtown, Lake City to the U-District) and focused on them. What is true of Lake City is true everywhere. If we replace that with a grid, then getting to Aurora (from everywhere) becomes a lot easier. If we replace that with a series of buses designed to give *some riders* one less transfer, you end up with a system that is a lot less frequent at best, and requires very convoluted routes (i. .e going quite a ways north, then back south) at worse. In other words, you simply create a version of the same mess we live with today.

      7. All that being said, there will be buses that go down Aurora and cut over to Link. Swift is the big one. That covers the area from the county border to 185th. The 330 is an interesting bus — it goes from Shoreline Community College to Lake City. Along the way it goes along Aurora for a short segment (160th to 155th). It will change, but if they want to continue to serve 155th, then it would make sense to cut down after crossing the freeway. In Metro’s long range plan they essentially want this to merge with the 65, which is frequent. Also in Metro’s long range plan is a change to the 331. It would still connect Shoreline Community College with Kenmore via Ballinger Way. But instead of cutting across at 205th, it would go down to the 185th station, then continue south again to 175th, and cut over there. It is easy to see how any one of these could be modified slightly to cover more of Aurora. But assuming that there is a frequent bus across 145th and 130th, that really doesn’t leave many holes. North of Northgate Way, that leaves 115th, 125th, 135th, 152nd, 170th and 180th. Half of these riders would be able to walk five blocks (or less) to get a crossing bus.

      8. All the east-west routes are 15-minute frequent or RapidRide in the LRP. The 44 and 45 is already full-time frequent, as is the 40 except Sunday evening (20 min). For Lake City to Aurora, Metro plans to reroute the 75 (130th) and extend the 65 (145th-155th-Shoreline CC), and in 2040 extend RR 40 to Lake City.

        There’s a tradeoff between making the grid the most frequent, and having some Aurora-crosstown service because the grid can’t be good enough. We’ll have to evaluate those individually. There may be some opportunities to join east-west routes or put them on Aurora for a shortish segment in the middle, but we can’t make a blanket statement until we see who would be helped and who would be hurt.

        But I can see the E reaching 5-10 minute service in the future and becoming more of a “northwest Link substitute”, both because ridership is increasing anyway and the E’s get overcrowded, and if Sam’s center lanes get any traction. If there is future crowding on north Link, that could help alleviate it. And the more frequent a bus gets, the less transfer overhead there is.

      9. Metro may optimistically say that east-west service will be at a higher frequency on their vision, but when actual ridership numbers come in a higher frequency will not make much sense from a productivity standpoint when compared with other Metro routes around the county.

        One major issue with a transit grid system is that the idea stems from the way that we think of the highway system. We are taught that grids are “good” in so many ways that we naturally think that they are in most situations. We “believe” that we should think in grids because that’s what our highway-oriented culture has taught us to travel from a very early age.

        However, designing for transit use has to be fundamentally different. First of all the “intersections” are more important than at a highway system; transferring between two buses by running across many lanes of Aurora or even some of the east-west streets is not desirable or particularly safe for a pedestrian. That alone could add 2 to 5 minutes to a trip for a rider. Second, there isn’t a way to make frequencies high enough to justify the needed subsidies for lower-density, free parking areas no matter what pretty colors go on a long range map like Metro’s. Finally, even if you have resolved both of these things, riders don’t like getting out of their seats and hopping on and off buses while everyone else on the bus doesn’t like to wait for the bus to load and unload more riders.

        As far as frequencies go, any route shouldn’t be eligible for splitting unless it’s at less than 5 or 6 minute headways already. I’d agree that 20 minutes is too long, RossB — but that’s not what I’m saying here, even with the same amount of service on the corridor today! RapidRide E already at the 5 minute spacing at peak hours. Midday it’s at 10 minute spacing today but sending half the buses to Link would mean that the headway would be less than 20 minutes..

        Let’s walk through some simple math about this. It appears to take about 53 minutes according to the schedule to go from the Shoreline end to the other. Of that 53 minutes, 22 minutes is going between 46th St N and the Downtown Seattle check point. That’s 41 percent of the route travel time!

        Now assuming that half of those buses could get to Link at say Roosevelt in less time, say 31 minutes that the trip takes to get to 46th Ave N today. That would save about 41 percent off of a one-way or a round trip or about 20 percent if it was half of the buses doing it. Reducing a 10 minute headway by 20 percent takes it to 8 minutes by only using the resources on the street today. Each half of the buses would then be at 16-minute headways without adding a single service hour.

        For a person going to Aurora, they could then choose. They could wait for 8 minutes or less (an average of 4 minutes) to get to Downtown Seattle by either taking RapidRide E or a second RapidRide route and transferring to link, or they could wait for 16 minutes or less (an average of 8 minutes) to use one of those lines.

        Add more service to enable a second line, and it could offer 10 minute service to both destinations, with a combined 5 minute headway at peak hours for those riders who don’t care how they get to Downtown Seattle at midday.

        Finally, I’d make the point that using any arterial BAT lane will almost always enable buses to go faster than on a parallel slower street (while mixing with traffic). Metro could both improve travel times and create more frequent service if buses could go faster. Metro should really consider if they can get more use possible of the great pavement resources of RapidRide BAT lanes by adding routes in addition to RapidRide routes at places where logical.

      10. >> Metro may optimistically say that east-west service will be at a higher frequency on their vision …

        Why do you assume that Metro will have insufficient headways on the east-west runs, and then turn around and assume that ‘L’ shaped routes will somehow have great headways? Again — and I don’t know how else to say this — ‘L’ shaped routes are more expensive. Your example — any example — just cut headways in half (or close to half) for those south of the turn point (85th in your example). If you are at 46th and Aurora, trying to head south (to downtown) or north (to some other part of Aurora) you have just gone from 10 minute headways to 16. Yes, you can get it back by adding service, but that costs money. Either you are degrading service for one group of riders (a very significant group, from what I can tell) or you are simply adding a new route — one that I would say is not that great. It isn’t that great because it is *slower* to downtown. It also requires — of all things — a transfer (which your plan seems to be trying to avoid).

        Meanwhile, how does this improve service along the 85th/65th corridor? The simply answer is, it doesn’t. Oh, if you get lucky, you might catch a bus that speeds your trip to Aurora, but it does nothing for the folks who are headed over to Greenwood (which is a much bigger destination than Aurora) and it does nothing to folks that are trying to get to the north end of Ballard (from Roosevelt). This does nothing to actually enhance the grid.

        >> One major issue with a transit grid system is that the idea stems from the way that we think of the highway system.

        Wrong. Grids are not like bus routes that make a loop, or subway lines to Tacoma. They have nothing to do with “thinking like a highway system” or driving in general. In fact, it is the opposite. It is about headways.

        Support for grids comes from careful analysis of transit systems. Jarrett Walker wrote an entire section about it (“The Joy of Grids”) in his book (Human Transit) and copied much of that writing here: http://humantransit.org/2010/02/the-power-and-pleasure-of-grids.html. It is about math. If you want a system that allows everywhere to everywhere transit, at the least possible cost, then you want a grid.

        Of course you sometimes have to bend a little, to work with the system you have. Link does not have stations that support the grid that well (e. g. Northgate Station is not on Northgate Way). The city has major geographic features that make it difficult to get around (e. g. Green Lake interrupts 65th). But whenever possible, if your goal is to provide a system that allows people to get anywhere from anywhere, you want a grid.

        Part of the reason that the E is so popular is that it is fairly grid like. It is very frequent, and it goes one direction (except for that silly Linden detour). It also happens to intersect several existing — and major — transit lines. Lots of riders get on and off at 46th, heading to or from the 44. Lots of people get off at 85th, heading to or from the 45. Lots of people do the same at Northgate Way with the 40. All of these areas have decent local density and attractions, but nothing exceptional. What they have is connections.

        We really should be working hard, whenever possible, to enhance and embrace the grid, because it is not at all intuitive. Someone from Magnolia, for example, is only marginally interested in going to Ballard or the U-District. When they take a bus, they want to go downtown. But if you “force them” to transfer at Dravus, and then turn around and increase headways on that bus and the D, everyone comes out ahead. When I look at David Lawson’s map, written years before we had the big increase in service, it is striking to me how much better things are for a lot of people: http://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v3/david-l.FNP-Type/page.html#13/47.6541/-122.3268. Sunset Hill has all day service. You have ten minute headways along 85th/65th. It doesn’t include the enhancements that have come, and will come in terms of service hours, and yet it is a huge improvement. That’s because it’s a grid.

      11. Sometimes L-shaped routes are good, but that’s usually when the interline two grid routes. The 8, 14, 75/31/32, and proposed 75 do that. The old 75 (Campus Pkwy – SPW – Lake City – Northgate – NW 85th St – 24th Ave NW) connected even more than two (albeit slowly and with the Northgate nonsense in the middle). Grid routes don’t have to go completely from shore to shore; San Francisco has several L-shaped routes like the 22 (Fillmore-18th) and 24 (Divisadero-30th-east). It takes a good transit planner to say where these would be strategic. That may happen to coincide with some service on Aurora-Link, but the primary issue is North Seattle/Shoreline’s overall mobility, not giving people on Aurora a one-seat ride to Link.

      12. RossB, take a look at Route 50 today. It’s 20 minutes peak and 30 minutes non-peak. The routes in far north Seattle and Shoreline are fairly similar in that they are mostly in residentia areas and mostly single-family, and they are being designed to work just like Route 50 — intersecting with Link and a major trunk line. Keep in mind that when Route 50 was pitched, it was supposed to be at 15-minute intervals. Even with extra Seattle and Metro money, there is such light demand that there is no interest in increasing the frequency.

        That’s why I don’t see Metro sincerely offering 15 minute service on these Aurora crosstown routes.

      13. @Al — Fair enough — but that doesn’t change the dynamic. A bus that heads down Aurora and then crosses over the freeway *is* a crosstown route. Why would Metro make a bigger investment in that, versus a different crosstown route? If that bus runs every half hour, why is it better than any other crosstown route that runs every half hour?

        Here is an example: Imagine two buses, both of which start out heading west from the 145th Street Station. Both turn north on Aurora. The first bus turns west on on 160th and ends at Shoreline Community College. The other bus just keeps going up Aurora and ends at 185th Both are about the same distance.

        Why is the Aurora bus better? For parts of Aurora, the buses are exactly the same. It is only between 165th to 180th (four stops) where the Aurora ‘L’ is better. But the Shoreline CC bus is not terrible. You have a transfer, but a transfer involving a very frequent E. On the hand, if you are at Shoreline CC, then you can’t take the other bus. It is useless to you. You just have to take the 5 (south) if you want to head towards town. I think it is pretty easy to see that the bus that goes to Shoreline CC will be more popular. Ridership will be higher which means farebox recovery is higher. Why, then, would Metro decide to abandon that route, for the other one, and then decide to run the bus more often?

        Even if they chose the Aurora bus, why is the Aurora bus (running every half hour) better than the Shoreline bus (running every half hour)?

        You can do the same exercise with the other stations. Should we split the 45, with only half hour service to Greenwood and Crown Hill? Or assuming extra service, why is a split bus, with, say, 20 minute service on each branch, better than just running the 45 every ten minutes? You are assuming that stops on Aurora (and only a handful of stops, in a particular direction) are more popular than stops to the west. Even if they are, you leave those stops to the west with nothing. A transfer is bad, but it is better than walking a mile or two.

        Aurora isn’t the center of the world. The stops that are popular tend to be close to the crossings (46th, 85th, Northgate Way, etc.). In all cases, there are significant stops to the west of Aurora.

        There is no free lunch. You can’t add service somewhere without taking it away somewhere else (or spending more money). Earlier you suggested taking service from the E. Another alternative is to take service from a crosstown bus (like the 45). Neither case makes sense. To be clear, there are savings to be had. Express buses should be sent to the nearest Link station instead of downtown (and there are a lot of express buses). But buses like the E, and the 45 (and the 40) should be left alone (if not enhanced with more service). New crosstown buses (serving 145th and 130th, when it finally gets here) should serve more people, and not turn before reaching the popular destinations to the west.

      14. “That’s why I don’t see Metro sincerely offering 15 minute service on these Aurora crosstown routes.”

        Metro’s performance reports have long said many corridors are or were underserved compared to their demand or potential demand. The limitation was always money, not potential passengers. That’s why over the years Metro has increased frequency on the 10, 11, 31, 32, 44, 48, 49, etc. Metro knows that peer cities like SF, Chicago, and Vancouver don’t have 30-minute service on core grid routes, they have 10-20 minutes, and that’s one of the reasons their ridership and mode share is so high. To quote a guy in the newspaper ca. 2000: “I lived in Chicago for decades never needing a car, but when I moved to Greenwood I found I couldn’t get around reasonably in the evenings without one.”

        So Metro is trying to raise the standard in its network. It’s also looking ten and twenty years into the future, not the situation in 2017. Ten years ago there was much less ridership in SLU or systemwide, less support for upzoning, fewer large apartment buildings, and less willingness to use transit. All of these are going into a positive direction. Anyone who looks at Capitol Hill, Ballard, Stone Way, California Ave, Rainier and MLK, 130th & Aurora, compared to twenty years ago is stunned at how much they’ve changed. We don’t perceive it as much because it happens gradually, and because I for one forget what used to be where the large buildings are now — something one- or two-story but I don’t remember what. This will continue to happen.

        Metro’s LRP is an aspirational plan, and it makes certain assumptions about ridership and funding availability. These may or may not pan out, but it’s good to have a big vision and prod it along toward acceptance: ask Seattle Subway. So 15-minute service on crosstown routes every ten blocks is a good thing to aspire to, even in Shoreline. And it’s not that far off from existing service. The 347/348 combine for 15-minute service roughly between Northgate and 175th weekdays/Saturdays. This just extends it to more routes, and tries to make them more effective by interlining the 331 with the 65, etc. Certainly Shoreline needs 15-minute service on 185th to give cross-shaped service in its “center” and connect to Link.

        Even I find a few of Metro’s suggestions fanciful, such as combined 15-minute service on QA-Magnolia to E Aloha. But there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to, and asking how worthwhile this is. It connects two areas that are very difficult to go between now, even though the 8 is “nearby”. (It looks closer from E Aloha than it does from W McGraw.) I think these will be the first to be abandoned if the economy hiccups or revenue votes fail.

        “Keep in mind that when Route 50 was pitched, it was supposed to be at 15-minute intervals. Even with extra Seattle and Metro money, there is such light demand that there is no interest in increasing the frequency.”

        The 50 is a mutt route like the 62. Part of them is high ridership but another part is very low. Metro knew the Seward Park tail would be low but it tried to prod it up rather than abandoning it. I don’t think these routes have to remain unified forever: they can be split with different levels of service on the different parts. Metro’s LRP keeps the 62 but splits the 50. I think that’s because Metro is heavily promoting the new 72 corridor, as it did earlier with the 75/31/32 which was a gigantic success. (Lots of travel between U Village and Fremont.) But Metro is admitting the 50 failed as a unified route, and will split it up.

  5. Honestly as a daily E rider, three changes would be enough to make a huge difference:
    1) Make the BAT lanes into 24/7 bus lanes and paint them red
    2) Get rid of the northbound Linden deviation somehow
    3) Add some sort of automated ticketing mechanism for box blockers at Battery/6th

    1. The Linden deviation is to give a safe way for northbound passengers to access the western neighborhood. There’s a crosswalk at 67th but it’s unsignaled so you have to wait for an opening in traffic, and elderly and disabled people are afraid of being hit by a car while they’re crossing. If you eliminate the Linden deviation you’ll have to improve that crossing somehow.

      1. @Mike Yes, but it would probably be cheaper to improve pedestrian facilities in that short stretch than to look at a larger change like switching to center running BRT. People with disabilities cross Aurora at all of the other stops; we can figure out changes that work at 65th. I totally get why they kept the northbound deviation for the RapidRide opening, but it should be a priority now. Ridership on the route has been a success and getting rid of those left turns would speed it up.

      2. The crosswalk at 68th has a signal. You can see both the traffic light and the beg button here: https://goo.gl/maps/bKkiCv85ZsD2. Adding a stop there would make sense, even though a handful of people would have to walk an extra block or two. It is old data, but ridership on Linden was not very high, and I don’t think it has increased much: https://i0.wp.com/seattletransitblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/king_county_metro_358.png?ssl=1. Just adding a stop at 68th and skipping Linden is the simple, and very cheap thing to do.

        As I said up above, you could instead add a stop closer to 65th, here: https://goo.gl/maps/SzFYZ3LSVjK2. It looks to me like there used to be a stop there. There used to be a crosswalk from the lake to that stop, and you can see it has been sanded off. The only thing I think that crosswalk could be for is to connect to a bus stop. Other than the crossing, there are other problems with that stop. It is a long walk (around) to get to the other side of Aurora. You are better off with the stop at 68th. So the only way that you could make that stop work is if you build a crossing similar to the one at 68th, which is expensive. Probably not horribly so, but for now, it makes sense to just do the cheap thing, and add a stop at 68th.

  6. One quibble: the Colman Dock thing is backwards. If you bring the E Line to Colman Dock ferry passengers only get access to the E Line. If you move the ferry terminal to 3rd Ave the ferry passengers get access to the whole transit network!

  7. Would it be possible to post the maps somewhere that doesn’t require entering the password of a Google account to get to?

    Requiring people to enter the password of their personal account to follow a link from STB helps ingrain bad habits, which make people more vulnerable to phishing attacks (bad guys setting up fake links to harvest people’s passwords).

    Thanks!

    1. I didn’t need to enter a password. I tried this after logging out, and with an anonymous browser. Which link asked you to login?

      1. First one. Stops and stations. That was Firefox. Tried again in Chrome and, this time, I did not need a password. No idea why.

      2. I’m on Firefox as well (and didn’t have a problem either when logged out or with a private window). Also worked with Chrome and I. E.

        I have had Google get confused at times. Usually logging on and off solves the problem. If that doesn’t work, try clearing your cookies. Oh, and turn the computer off and on again (I. T. joke).

    2. I can also view the maps in Firefox, even when I’m logged out. Maybe switching browsers would help?

  8. I like the idea of frequent grids, but at the same time, it’s important to understand why transfers suck. In fact, to put it bluntly, 10 minutes of waiting in the middle of the trip is usually much worse than the same 10 minutes spent waiting at the beginning of the trip or walking to the bus stop. The reason why is that at the beginning of the trip, you have some control. If the bus isn’t coming for awhile, you can wait indoors, before walking to the bus stop. Or, if you’re starting to walk and realize that you’re a bit late, you can pick up the pace up the pace (within reason), burn a few more calories, and make up the time. In many cases, I’ll pull out OneBusAway when I get within a couple blocks of the bus stop and speed up or slow down, depending on what it says. So, if a bus is running every 15 minutes, I will almost never actually be standing at the bus stop for 15 minutes (most of the time, not more than 5 minutes).

    Now, let’s contrast this to having to wait for a bus in the middle of the trip. Now, everything is beyond your control. Your bus is going to get there when it gets there, and if one too many change fumblers means you get to watch your other bus drive off without you, that’s just too bad. And, buses are late all the time, so even if the connecting bus is supposed to run every 15 minutes you still might get stuck waiting 25 minutes. In many cases, the transfer points have no open businesses nearby (or at least none that sell products you want to buy and can shop for fast enough to make the next bus), so you’re stuck waiting outside in the rain (and you get much colder standing still than walking to the bus stop, during which the physical exertion warms you up). Even worse, if you have to be somewhere by a certain time, you have to allow for the worst-case transfer experience every time, whether it actually turns out that way or not. So, you might need to allow 20-30 minutes of padding, on top of 15-20 minutes of actual ride time, for a 3-mile trip that would be, door to door, less than 10 minutes by car (or 15 minutes by bike).

    In short, the moment a trip involves a transfer, it immediately becomes much less reliable and much more unpleasant.

    Of course, in a hypothetical world where every bus ran every 5 minutes, 20 hours a day, and kept perfect time with Japanese-style precision (and a world where transferring didn’t mean waiting 3-5 minutes at stoplights, just to cross the street), none of these objections would matter.

    Even today, I am generally willing to tolerate transfers under certain conditions, particularly one of the following:
    1) At least one of the two legs is Link (the only service where I can trust that even if I just miss one, I won’t be stuck for an unreasonable amount of time).
    2) I have lots of time and nothing better to do.
    3) I have shopping I want to do at the transfer point, so it feels more like two separate trips than a real transfer.
    4) I am willing to walk the second leg if the bus isn’t coming soon (but I see it coming, so hop on anyway).

    In the specific case of Aurora, I’m kind of torn. On the one hand, I once had a girlfriend who had to deal with the mess of transferring between the E-line and the 48 (now, 45) every single day. On the other hand, I also realize that overlapping L-shaped routes are expensive to operate at reasonable frequency, and also that, for better or worse, the existing E-line does do a good job getting people from the Aurora corridor to downtown, and any attempts to reduce frequency on it to pay for parallel L-routes would make the service less attractive to those people.

    Maybe a good compromise is to stick to grid for all-day service, but add some additional peak-only routes to provide direct connections that don’t work well with the grid. For instance, maybe route 355 can become the route that “jogs over to Roosevelt”, with a Link transfer to get downtown, rather than running the bus itself all the way downtown. It might also be worth introducing a peak-hour express version of the E-line that skips most of the stops (basically, stopping only at transfer points, with no stops at all between Denny and Pine), for faster trips to downtown.

    1. There is one additional consideration: The distance that a rider has to travel between the transfer stops on a grid system. At best a rider has a 50-50 chance of not crossing a street to transfer. If it is as a major intersection with lots of turning lanes, that’s lots of pavement to cross. It also may mean that some of the cross-street bus stops have to be located a few hundred feet from the intersection, even if it is on the same corner!

      Transferring is always easier if buses stop at the same bus stop. If a cross-town bus route is routed on Aurora even for a single stop, the riders can have a very minimal transfer penalty. If the routing requires crossing one or two major streets with turning traffic on and off of them — as is the case with Aurora — the rider has a stressful and somewhat risky transfer experience. This is one more reason that I think cross-town buses would do better routed on Aurora for at least a few blocks.

      As far as median transit lanes go, one only has to look at Columbia City, Othello and Rainier Beach Link stations to see the mess that a median major transit line station creates. Everyone jaywalks! Everyone runs in front of cars and some people get hit. Transferring passengers often miss the connecting bus or the train, or they may partly run to the connecting stop just in case they miss a bus or train. It’s not a great solution.

    2. Of course transfers aren’t ideal. As Jarrett Walker put it, Everybody would really like a frequent service from their home to everywhere they ever go, which is pretty much what a private car is. But the reality is that there are trade-offs. If you make overlapping, special bus routes, they avoid transfers for one set of riders, but make other transfers much worse. Headways suffer, which means you end up spending more time waiting for the transfer. Straightforward routes don’t exist, and people deal with really bad connections. Lake City to Bitter Lake is a good example. You have a transfer — at Northgate! Holy cow, you have to go well out of your way AND make a transfer. Oh, and while it is easy to catch a bus from Lake City to Northgate, the bus on the other end only runs every half hour! So now I’m not only going way out of my way, but I’m waiting forever to catch that second bus.

      The reason it is designed that way is to avoid transfers. The trip I described sounds quite reasonable (Bitter Lake and Lake City are both densely populated communities, with a fair amount of businesses). But for someone in Bitter Lake, downtown is a more popular destination. So the 345 actually continues to downtown after getting to Northgate, and thus provides the rider with a one seat ride there. This is a reasonable trade-off; maybe there aren’t enough people trying to get from one side of town to the other.

      Another factor is that sometimes people also just prefer a direct ride, versus a transfer. You could probably run the West Seattle buses a lot more often if you truncated them at SoDo. But the riders wouldn’t like that. There they are, at the edge of downtown, forced to make a transfer. That is just another trade-off, which is why you have to look at the particulars. One of the reasons why the 71/72/73 truncations have been reasonably popular is because the UW itself is a destination. So while a lot of riders have a slower overall trip to downtown, a lot of other riders have a more frequent trip to the UW. SoDo is not popular, which is why truncating there hasn’t been done.

      You really have to look at the particulars, and see if it makes sense. Making a blanket statement about transfers (we want more or less) misses the point. There are some cases where it is a clear winner (e. g. the 41 will be truncated at Northgate, forcing everyone to transfer) and other cases where it won’t pay off.

      Al assumes that a crosstown bus that includes part of Aurora will be more popular than a crosstown bus that goes past Aurora. I disagree, strongly. A crosstown bus that goes up Aurora avoids a transfer for a handful of riders (only those north of the cross street, and south of the next cross street). But for those west of Aurora, it isn’t a matter of an extra transfer, it is a matter of no service. Furthermore, the folks to the west are *more* likely to want to take the crosstown bus, since they don’t lie on a frequent, fast bus to downtown. If I’m at Shoreline Community College and I can choose between a bus headed to 145th station, or the 5, I’m taking the former. If I’m at 160th and Aurora, and can make the same choice, I might as well flip a coin. The E will get me downtown just about as quickly, without a transfer. Borrowing from the crosstown bus that goes farther west just to avoid a transfer for a handful of riders just doesn’t make sense.

      If you don’t “borrow” from that set of riders, where do you borrow from? Regular E service? That would mean that riders heading downtown, as well as all riders just heading up Aurora take a hit. That just doesn’t sound like a good trade-off at all.

    3. “I have shopping I want to do at the transfer point, so it feels more like two separate trips than a real transfer.”

      Bingo, our land use is part of the problem. San Francisco and Vancouver have corner stores and small businesses scattered along its grid streets, so it’s more likely that your transfer point will have something that you can happily split your trip with — an errand that you need to do anyway, or a shop that you particularly like. But Seattle has small urban-village islands surrounded by a sea of suburban-level density. So it’s hard to make a strong grid route on 15th Ave NE, NE 75th Street, MLK in the CD, 23rd/John/Madison because there’s just nothing there: they bypass the nearby urban villages and you’d transfer in the middle of nowhere. “Oh look, there are five houses around me. If I were one of the ten people who lived there or knew somebody there it would be convenient” — compared to the tens of thousands of people who have reasons to go to local businesses or dense housing lots. Seattle does not serve the latter very well, which is why our ridership and mode share are lower than in cities with more mixed-use and corner stores.

      1. San Francisco is a fairly compact and much denser city, so that high frequencies are easier to justify from a productivity standpoint. It’s also true that neighborhood commercial areas are fairly compact; some run north-south and others run east-west in almost any sector of the city.

        San Francisco also has very few roadways as wide as Aurora. 19th Avenue is perhaps the only comparable one (higher speed traffic and over 80 feet across). Transfers always seem easier if the roadway is narrower.

        San Francisco also requires almost all signals to have timed pedestrian crossings available at every phase. That’s unlike Seattle where a pedestrian or transferring rider must punch a button to trigger the walk sign and that alone can add as much as two minutes to a transfer trip and make someone miss a connecting bus.

        San Francisco Muni’s major crosstown routes — 22, 24, 28, 33, 43 and 44 — are almost all L shaped. It’s not a true “grid” but more in a spoke and wheel arrangement — with BART and Muni Metro being key spokes that crosstown buses usually pass.

        Another comparison is also the near East Bay, where AC Transit has almost every route intersecting with a BART station, and in many cases that’s where the routes begin and end. Many of these routes have L-shapes to them. Even the routes that parallel BART have points in which they are routed to serve a station. There major routes, like Routes 1, 72 and 82 serve at least two BART stations.

        I could see 15-minute service on crosstown routes in dense areas with lots of street-level commercial adjacent to the sidewalk. But I don’t see the political forces in far north Seattle and especially in Shoreline willing to make the street geometry, setback and density compromises to create an environment that makes the concept desirable.

        Meanwhile, the level of public support for high demand routes to get directly to a Link station will grow once Link opens. I would expect almost anyone from Northgate to the Snohomish County line to be pressuring Metro to serve Link any time the restructuring question is opened.

        Finally, I would point out about all of the whining about Route 7 not reaching Rainier Beach Station on this very blog. It’s a very similar situation to RapidRide E in Shoreline between Aurora and Link except the distance is a bit shorter.

  9. A couple points:
    – Ever consider guided busway? Can result in much higher operation speed.
    – I don’t dig buses to be honest. They’re only going to carry 100 people tops. In doing this treatment down Aurora, we’re taking a lane in each direction forever, so we might as well go all out with rubber tyre metro or some rail variant, heck maybe even streetcar to accommodate the tighter turns (crazy speculation – perhaps we could special order with some form of rubber tire 3rd axis to help pull the thing up hills ie a rack railway using friction instead of a geared system). You can string multiple units together, and if we’re going all out on this to try to urbanize the corridor, I don’t know of BRT will be able to be sufficient for the corridors long term needs in terms of capacity.
    – I love overpasses. They can be used to access center platforms easy too. More crazy ideation – perhaps one day we can create a total “secondary” pedestrian/bike network over aurora with building entrances and the whole 9 yards, so ped/bike don’t even have to touch the car realm. We could have some large ramps to get folks onto the system extending onto side streets. Side benefit – this reconnects grid over aurora for ped/bike

    1. Rail on Aurora failed to happen and it will be a hard sell for a long time. But getting transit lanes will be a big step in that direction, because the ROW will be dedicated to transit and the controversy over getting cars off it will be finished. The DSTT was a big step toward Link because it removed that expense from ST1 and made it easier for ST1 to pass. Also, the E is already 5-15 minutes full time and overcrowded peak hours. The 99-B line in Vancouver has a bus every two minutes. We could do that on Aurora if necessary and it would give a lot of capacity: not as much as a train but enough for the medium term. And with nearby parallel Link, a train on Aurora is not as critical as it would be without it — because who wouldn’t want to take a robust E over a 41 that gets bogged down in huge I-5 traffic.

      1. This is a good point. I’m not saying I don’t support this, because I certainly do. In the long term though IMO we have to go bigger. And in the short term, investments should be convertible to rail. Having center platforms is a great start since rail can use them, and TSP can be appropriated for rail too

        That said getting the ROW nailed down is already a super huge step. Incrementalism isn’t a bad plan here.

    2. There are only a couple instances where a major investment in a corridor (e. g. a new bridge) make sense:

      1) If you have high capacity vehicles (trains) running frequently (every five minutes or so).

      2) You have a shared corridor, with buses following a branch and trunk system (e. g. a bus tunnel in a downtown area).

      Replacing this with rail probably wouldn’t be a huge win. This corridor is not full. The buses only run every ten minutes. You could double the frequency, which would improve service considerably, and still have plenty of room on the buses. With a train, I don’t see that. Running a train is more expensive, which means that even running it every ten minutes is hard to justify. I could easily see half empty trains running every 15 minutes, which would be worse than the situation today.

      If we do have capacity problems with the buses, there are other ways to handle that. This is where Al’s idea comes in — you basically run express buses connecting to the train. The thing is, Link will take some of the pressure off the E, especially as crosstown bus service improves. There are a fare number of riders who take the E all the way up to Aurora Village. They will instead be able to take Swift over to 185th, which will save them a lot of time. Likewise, a crosstown bus on 145th would pick up a fair number, as will the 45. It will be interesting to see ridership for the E after Link gets to Lynnwood. While there will be a bit of a network effect (as the crosstown buses improve), it may actually lose ridership, as folks switch to combinations that involve Link.

      As far bus corridors go, Aurora is important, but not huge, nor hugely congested. You do have the 5, 26 and 28 to go along with the E. But average speeds are well above what most buses can muster. There are no crossing streets for much of it, and there are bus lanes (although they aren’t perfect). If you added center lanes along Aurora, the difference would be small, and probably wouldn’t even be noticed most of the day. That sort of improvement would be minor compared to a bus tunnel, which both avoids congestion, and avoids stop lights.

      This is why I don’t think this needs or warrants a major investment like the one outlined here. By all means, we should fix things whenever possible. Add bus lanes if you can do it. But spending billions or even hundreds of millions probably doesn’t make sense. The changes suggested here (https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/01/01/aurora-corridor-improvements/#comment-791321) would probably not cost much at all, and yield to considerable improvement in speed. That is the sort of thing that makes sense for the E, and the corridor.

      1. This should be “fair number of riders”, not “fare number of riders”. I knew I would make that mistake someday.

      2. Fair. I’d support something like what the Sam is talking about. I’m just thinking that there’s a huge amount of buildable land in this corridor in the form of strip malls and other various blight, and as we all know, real estate development trails public investment. If we heavily invest in this corridor, I could definitely see the SLU effect occur here too. IMO the ideal solution is to implement Sam’s idea, then one day as the demand increases add trains.

      3. Part of Aurora’s decaying-building problem is zoning restrictions which the city says it will address this year, and part of it is certain landowners who want to keep it as a 2-story, car-centric area. Their business-recruitment flyers say Aurora is a “car-friendly” neighborhood with “plenty of free parking for customers” and “low-cost leases”.

      4. Andrew, you simply can’t put trains on the Aurora Bridge. It was not build to support the concentrated weight and vibration. The only way there will ever be rail in the Aurora/Greenwood corridor will be as a subway at least as far as 110th. North of there it can run on the Interurban Corridor and east side of Linden.

        And that’s really not a bad thing, because a subway could follow Fremont/Greenwood north from the Ship Canal to Northgate Way and then shift over to the Interurban Corridor. The crest of Phinney Ridge is a natural place for high rise towers, because both sides of the buildings would have great views. Along Aurora you’d need to be on the tenth floor at least to see over Maple Ridge to the east and the north end of Phinney Ridge to the west

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