After almost three years without any significant service cuts, we’ve gotten pretty used to happy service change announcements from Metro. The latest change, which begins this coming Saturday, March 10, is no exception. Service additions are sprinkled throughout the system without much countervailing bad news. (The redundant route 99 does disappear, but ridership numbers suggest that no one will notice.) This service change brings no major restructures of service, so increased service is the big story. It’s scattered throughout the system, but with a particularly welcome and overdue focus on the greater Kent area.
Other news includes:
- a new approach to Renton-downtown service on routes 101 and 102;
- construction reroutes in Sodo and the Central District (including significant hassles for the relatively few riders of route 4’s Judkins Park tail); and
- minor routing changes in downtown Seattle and downtown Redmond to match changing traffic patterns.
Specifics below the jump.
New Thinking in Renton
Metro route 101 is an all-day, quasi-express route between downtown Seattle and Renton, serving both South Renton Park and Ride and downtown Renton. Until now, it ran every half hour (15 minutes at peak hours) in this order:
Seattle – S Renton P&R – Downtown Renton
Downtown Renton – S Renton P&R – Seattle
Obviously, this routing favors suburban drivers parking at the P&R (many from Renton Highlands, Fairwood, and Kent East Hill) over central Renton residents and riders transferring from other buses, by giving them a shorter trip. But for this service change, Metro is going to reverse its priorities. In conjunction with an improvement to 15-minute frequency all day, route 101 will now run:
Seattle – Downtown Renton – S Renton P&R
S Renton P&R – Downtown Renton – Seattle
All is not lost for the majority of P&R riders who commute at peak hours. Metro will convert about half of peak-hour route 101 trips in both directions into new trips on route 102, which retains the existing routing between Seattle and the P&R. The converted trips will not continue to Fairwood like existing route 102 trips, but they will ensure that the P&R has direct peak-hour service to Seattle. Riders wanting the shortest trip between Seattle and the P&R will want to use route 102, while existing route 102 riders from Fairwood will want to check before boarding the bus in Seattle to make sure signage says “Fairwood.”
The curious among us are wondering whether the frequency improvement and the change in routing are intended to allow routes 101 and 169 to be through-routed easily once route 101 leaves the downtown transit tunnel next year. Not only would such a through-route offer efficiency improvements on its own, but it could also take advantage of common terminals with route 150 on both ends, allowing further efficiency and routing improvements.
All-Day Frequency Improvements
The following routes get all-day frequency improvements (which always excite us most, because the all-day weekday network is the fundamental baseline for Metro service):
- RapidRide F Line between Renton, Southcenter, and Burien gets 15-minute evening service until 10 p.m. It was the only RapidRide line without 15-minute evening frequency.
- Route 3 between the Central District and Madrona will have 15-minute midday service (up from 30) on weekdays for at least as long as Route 4 Shuttle (see below) is running.
- Route 31 between the U-District, Fremont, and Magnolia will have 30-minute service extended until about 9 p.m. weekdays only. This will also extend the span of 15-minute service between the U-District and Fremont on the combination of routes 31 and 32. There is still no route 31 service on Sunday.
- Route 74 will regain the weekday midday service that used to be numbered Route 30, running every 30 minutes between Sand Point and the U-District only. Unlike former route 30, the new route 74 shuttle trips will use the same routing in the U-District as existing route 74, serving Roosevelt Wy NE southbound and 11th Ave NE northbound. Transfers from other U-District service are available along NE 50 St. This routing is quite puzzling, because it makes any transfer to Link difficult while also staying a quarter-mile away from most of the UW campus. The only easy transfer to downtown is to route 70 at 15th Ave NE/NE 50th St, no one’s idea of a quick or efficient trip.
- Route 101, as already mentioned, will have 15-minute midday service on weekdays.
- Route 150 Sunday service between Kent, Southcenter, and Seattle will improve to 15-minute frequency.
- Route 153 between Renton and Kent via E Valley, previously peak-only, will add new weekday midday service running every 30 minutes.
- Route 183, a local connector route serving several Federal Way and west Kent neighborhoods, will have 30-minute weekday midday service (up from 60) and will add new hourly evening service until 10 p.m. The low frequency and span of route 183 compared to its peer routes has been a Metro mystery for years and this is a welcome change.
- Route 240 connecting Bellevue, Eastgate, Factoria, Newcastle, and Renton will gain 30-minute service (up from 60) evenings (all 7 days) and Sundays.
- Route 269, now weekday-only (peak-only before the last service change), will add 30-minute Saturday service–the first Saturday service in Sammamish.
Routing will continue to serve Issaquah, Bear Creek, and Overlake, bypassing downtown Redmond, even on Saturday.CORRECTION: Saturday service will run between Bear Creek, Sammamish, and Issaquah only. Overlake will not be served on Saturday. But downtown Redmond riders will still have to transfer to ST 545 at Bear Creek.
West Seattle Construction Reroutes
The City of Seattle will soon begin construction on its new Lander Street overpass (having ignored our plea for design changes). This will displace all of the routes currently using Lander Street in Sodo, which include all-day routes 21 and 50 as well as peak-hour routes 37, 116, 118X, and 119X.
The downtown routes (all except route 50) will use Edgar Martinez Dr (aka S Atlantic St), which flies over the tracks, to travel between 1st Ave S and 4th Ave S. When there is no Mariners, Sounders, or Seahawks game, this is a fantastic solution, which should improve reliability on the subject routes and also route 5 (which is through-routed from route 21). At game time, buses will instead use S Holgate St, which (like Lander today) is subject to train delays, and may have some additional game-related congestion.
Route 50 riders, as usual on that star-crossed route, will suffer worse. Their reroute will use Holgate, adding 3-4 minutes to travel time without any reduction in train delays. Riders from the west wishing to reach downtown would be well served to transfer to RapidRide C at 35th Av SW/SW Avalon Wy, rather than trying to use Link.
23rd Ave Construction: The Fun Starts Again
The City of Seattle is about to start Phase 2 of the 23rd Ave rebuild project, which will see total reconstruction of most of that street through Judkins Park. As during the previous phase, route 4 will be truncated at Garfield High School on weekdays. Responding to criticism from the previous phase, Metro will offer half-hourly weekday shuttle service between Center Park and 21st/James to replace the missing route 4 tail. The shuttle will start at the service change, but will initially use the usual routing. Starting in April, buses will use Martin Luther King Jr. Way south of Jackson, not serving the neighborhood loop in Judkins Park. I expect this shuttle to serve mostly riders accessing First Hill medical facilities; other riders will have better options. Route 4 will serve its normal route on weekends, when construction isn’t active.
The change should be less painful than it was the first time, because alternative services have significantly improved in the intervening three years. Route 48 is now frequent throughout the evening, while frequent service on route 8 extends later into the evening. Route 27 midday service was restored, and route 14 is more frequent during the day.
One positive consequence of this change is that the segment of route 3 between Madrona and First Hill will see a weekday frequency increase to 15 minutes. The layover at 21st/James does not have capacity to handle all of the existing coaches on both route 4 and short-turn route 3 trips after adding the shuttle, so some route 3 trips are being extended to Madrona. I strongly hope this service pattern continues permanently. The full route 3 provides better network connections and has fewer alternative services than route 4. (Full disclosure: I live somewhat close to the route 3 Madrona terminal. Fuller disclosure: I hoped for this years before I moved to Madrona.)
Peak-Hour Frequency Improvements
The following routes get additional trips to improve peak-hour frequency or relieve peak-hour overcrowding:
- C Line (2 AM, 1 PM trips)
- D Line (1 AM trip)
- E Line (2 AM, 2 PM trips)
- 5 local (1 AM trip)
- 5X (1 AM trip)
- 24 (1 AM trip)
- 50 (1 AM, 1 PM trips)
- 64 (1 PM trip)
- 70 (2 AM trips). This change represents an early start for trips that have previously been added during Amazon internship season.
- 156 (3 AM and 3 PM trips). This change allows Route 156 to run every 15 minutes in the peak direction during most of peak hour, improving transfers from route 150.
- 180 (4 northbound AM trips)
- 181 (2 AM trips in each direction)
- 212 (2 AM trips)
- 218 (3 AM trips)
- 245 (3 AM trips southbound, 2 AM trips northbound)
- 312 (1 PM trip)
Minor Routing Changes
Metro is making minor routing changes to a few routes in central Seattle and downtown Redmond to reflect changes to the street network. Riders of the following routes should double- check their stop location to ensure that they aren’t left behind:
- Downtown Seattle: routes 7, 29, 217, and Metro-operated Sound Transit routes 522, 545, and 554
- First Hill: route 60
- Downtown Redmond: routes 224, 232, 248, and Metro-operated Sound Transit route 545