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Lynnwood Link will dramatically alter transit in Snohomish County. There will be substantial savings that come from truncating long distance runs into Seattle, and with that money, the opportunity to better serve the region. This is a proposal for three frequent bus routes that would connect the Lynnwood Transit Center to various parts of Everett.

Current System

There are three agencies operating in the area: Sound Transit, Community Transit, and Everett Transit. Sound Transit has four routes there. The 513 is rush hour only, and picks up less than 20 people per bus north of Lynnwood. It performs poorly, and is not worth expanding. The 510 and 511 are both rush hour express buses to downtown Seattle. The 510 serves Everett and South Everett stations, while the 511 serves Lynnwood and Ash Way stations. The 512 does not operate during rush hour and essentially serves all of those locations. Those three buses would undergo changes with this proposal.

There are numerous buses serving the area. Everett Transit doesn’t go to Lynnwood, but is worth mentioning because it would complement the proposed routes. Community Transit has several routes in the area, but most of them run only every half hour. The 201/202 are an exception. These buses run every 15 minutes from Everett to Mariner, Ash Way (the street as well as the Park and Ride) and Lynnwood. The three ST buses (510, 511 and 512) along with Community Transit 201/202 serve as the basis for this new alignment.

I am proposing that we run buses frequently (about every 15 minutes all day long) like so:

  1. The 201 and 202 would retain its existing frequency (15 minutes combined) and simply be truncated at Ash Way Park and Ride.
  2. The 510 is largely the same (merely truncated at Lynnwood) but would run frequently all day.
  3. The 514 is a new bus that would also run frequently all day.
  4. The 511 and 512 would go away.

Faster Running

One of the key elements of this proposal is to speed up the travel between Everett and Lynnwood. Sound Transit already does that with the design of the 510 and 511. In both cases, there are bus stops along the way connected to HOV lanes on both ends. This means that buses spend very little time serving those stops. In contrast, because there are no north end ramps connecting the Ash Way transit center to the freeway, the 512 spends extra time dealing with the traffic lights and general purpose lanes. My proposal is to continue the basic idea of the 510/511, but extend it all day long.

Better Connections

The bus serving Ash Way (the new 514) does not get on the freeway north of there. It is instead extended to serve the neighborhoods to the north. By overlapping the 201/202, it allows those Community Transit buses to be truncated at Ash Way. If you are headed from Everett TC to Lynnwood, you would take the 510. Between 128th and 164th, you can take the 514 to Lynnwood.

The 514 manages to serve most of the densely populated areas north of Lynnwood. It connects with both Swift Lines as well as a lot of Everett Transit and Community Transit buses. It can take advantage of the right of way granted to both Swift lines. For many in the area, it would provide a much faster connection to Lynnwood. Someone on SR 99 who happens to be close to a stop can get to Lynnwood using one bus, instead of three. The bus also provides a little extra service along the two main corridors being served by Swift. While Swift is relatively frequent (12 minutes during the day), adding an extra bus along that line would likely be welcome, and not excessive.

Other Options

The 514 is fairly long (about 12 miles). If money is tight, then it could be truncated at various places. There is no point, though, in ending it before (or at) 164th. That would simply be a shift in service, with no benefit over keeping the existing routing of the 510, 511 and 201/202 (but running the first two more often). That leaves a few options:

1) Ending at SR 99 and Airport Road. That would provide a lot of people with a fast one seat ride to Lynnwood, while anyone on SR 99 would have a fairly frequent two seat ride. Unfortunately, a lot of people on Casino Road (which is relatively densely populated) would still have an infrequent three seat ride to Lynnwood. It also becomes more difficult to get to Paine Field and the surrounding factories. There are likely to be alternative bus routes, but probably nothing as frequent (because nothing would pass through as many relatively densely populated areas).

2) Ending at SR 99 and Casino Road. A stop here would connect to several Everett Transit bus routes. However, the Community Transit bus routes manage to skip this stop by using the freeway. This means that connecting service to the airport (and surrounding businesses) would not be that frequent. I could easily see how more bus routes could be changed to serve that area (since it is a crossroad) but if you ended at Airport Road and Casino Road, you wouldn’t have to. That connects to just about every bus in the area.

21 Replies to “Frequent Everett Bus Routes Serving Lynnwood Link”

  1. I like your idea about getting the time-consuming P&Rs like Ash Way out of the Everett-Lynnwood trunk and putting them on different route(s). Concrete proposals like this will help to push ST and CT to do so. And that route to Boeing prebuilds ridership for ST3, although it may be less popular because it’s indirect and meanders on Ash Way. Still, it’s an idea.

    There might be heavy pushback to truncating the 201/202, especially before Link gets to Everett. The 201/202 serve several transit markets, but one of them is Smokey Point to Lynnwood. Otherwise Marysville would be a two-seat ride to Link, and Arlington a three-seat ride. (And that’s on top of the 1-3 seats if you’re going further on Link.) I think Snohomish would say every route should go to a Link station, except minor nodes like Arlington and Snohomish town. But Marysville should arguably be part of the trunk, and is the fastest-growing part of the county. And it would make it feasible to truncate the Skagit County route at Smokey Point someday.

    The 201/202 are odd because they’re express in Everett, stopping only at Everett Station and a stop in south downtown. That’s mainly because Everett is not in CT’s service area, but it also speeds up service between Marysville and Lynnwood, which is probably a priority of CT and the county’s residents. Lynnwood is the de facto biggest city and center of the county, even though Everett tries hard to hang on to its historical status. And long distances are less of a problem in Snohomish County than they are in King County because densities are lower, roads are wider, and speed limits are higher. CT routes used to be maddeningly slow when they meandered. (A woman in Mountlake Terrace in the early 90s said she could walk her dog to Edmonds Community College faster as the CT route took.), but since it was reorganized to go between transit centers, I have found CT buses to be impressively fast when they come. Their main problem now is frequency. I don’t know if the 201/202 have reliability problems; it’s worth checking how reliable they are.

    1. >> There might be heavy pushback to truncating the 201/202, especially before Link gets to Everett.

      I agree. I could easily see Community Transit keeping it, and seeing how many people ride it from Lynnwood. If you are headed to Everett, then the 510 is faster. North of there, you might as well make it a one seat ride. Heading to Ash Way, it is simply a matter of catching the first bus that comes along.

      I see nothing wrong with keeping the redundancy, and just seeing how it works out. Maybe you have a fair amount of demand from Ash Way (both the street and the Park and Ride) to Lynnwood, or maybe you have a lot of one seat riders from the north end of the 201/202 to Lynnwood. It would be pretty easy to just look at the number of people who board at Lynnwood and see if it is worth it.

  2. Faster service to Everett is all and good, but the 514, I’m not quite sure about. The entire route is redundant with other routes and, in many cases, much of the time saved by elimination of a transfer gets squandered on additional detours. For example, if you’re trying to get from Paine Field to Link and Swift II happens to come by first, you’re probably better getting on the Swift II bus, which takes the direct path to Ash Way/128th, then switching to either the 201/202/514, whichever comes first. Along SR-99, if Swift comes first, the 514 might be something of a wash compared to just getting on the Swift and transferring to a (hopefully frequent) shuttle for the last mile.

    If the 514 is going to exist, I think it really needs to connect north Lynnwood to Link in a way that’s demonstrably faster than other alternatives. Maybe take SR-99 to SR-525, then just get on the freeway the rest of the way. The SR-99 section could serve all the stops (not just the Swift stops), to help fill in some of the service gap.

    1. For example, if you’re trying to get from Paine Field to Link and Swift II happens to come by first, you’re probably better getting on the Swift II bus, which takes the direct path to Ash Way/128th, then switching to either the 201/202/514, whichever comes first.

      So what? That is just one point (and really the only point like that). There are plenty of similar examples throughout our system, and they work really well. For example, if you are trying to get from Lake City to downtown, you are much better off taking the 522, rather than the 41. But hundreds, if not thousands of people take the 41 from Lake City to connect to Northgate (or places in between). A route doesn’t have to work end to end to be successful.

      Furthermore, some people do take it end to end. If you miss the 522, then it does make sense to take the 41. You could also take the 75 (if it arrives first) to Northgate, then switch to the 41, which is essentially what you are talking about, It is hard to see folks having that option (from that particular spot) being a bad thing.

      But most people — even from that spot — headed to Lynnwood TC would just take the 514, since it is the best option for getting to Lynnwood.

      But that isn’t why I want to extend it to Airport Road. Airport Road and Casino Road is a major transit spot. There are plenty of buses — including express buses that travel along SR 526 — that detour to serve that area. Yet service from there to the north end SR 99 is not very good. To the south end it will be, but to the north end (essentially straight across) it is infrequent (half hour at best). That means that not only is it a pain to get from Boeing to various places to the north, but it is tough on people who live in the apartments along Casino Road. Getting to Everett is a pain, despite the fact that they are relatively close to the most frequent and fastest bus in the system (Swift). Even if they are close to Airport road, things won’t get that much better. They will be able to take Swift 2 south, then head back north, but that is a bigger detour than the one from there to Lynnwood.

      Meanwhile, lots of people headed to Lynnwood come out way ahead. The spot you mentioned is really the only one that is even close. If you are at those apartments at Casino Road, you are looking at a three seat ride otherwise. Likewise along much of SR 99. Even if all the other buses are relatively frequent, they aren’t going to run every five minutes, meaning the transfer penalty is significant.

      Which is why this compliments the existing service. If I’m at SR 99 and Casino Road and just want to head down SR 99 a couple miles to 112th, then I’m taking Swift or the 514, whichever comes first. Ideally the two buses are timed (to give six minute effective headways) but even if not, having two buses along there is fine. I see no reason why you can’t have off board payment on the 514, but worse case scenario, a few change fumblers aren’t going to make it worth waiting for Swift unless I’m headed farther down SR 99. If I’m making the turn on 128th, then I would be thrilled to see the 514, knowing that it means one less transfer.

      The geometry isn’t perfect because the street layout isn’t great. You don’t have a grid. This could be considered redundant, but not enough to worry about. It also complements the Swift lines that will be in place soon. Folks in the apartments on Casino Road who would otherwise be in no man’s land have a good connection to both Swift Lines. Of course they have other options, but they are infrequent. You could improve those other options (run Swift or the Everett 3 more often, etc.) but that wouldn’t be any cheaper, and likely wouldn’t be a better value. This manages to serve 8 of the top 18 census areas in Snohomish County. No other bus route (not even the Swift Lines) comes close to that. In terms of density per mile, it is by far the most efficient bus route in the county. With destinations and connections, I don’t see how it could lose.

    2. 522 BRT will overlap with RapidRide 372 between 145th and Bothell, which is a lot longer distance. At first they seem redundant, isn’t 522 BR supposed to be 10-minute frequent anyway, and you’re adding another frequent route on top of it? And I still wonder if it’s excessive there. But Metro seems certain there’s demand for two frequent routesin that corridor, and as you guys said, some people will take whichever one comes first.

      1. Yeah, great example. Just the other day I did just that. I was wish some friends in Lake City, and we wanted to head to the Roosevelt neighborhood (roughly 65th and 15th). We were planning on walking, but didn’t want to walk that far. We were expecting to take the 372, but the 522 was there, and it worked out great. We just walked south from Lake City and Way and 20th instead of west from 25th and 65th. A little more walking, but no problem at all. Of course I’ve done the same thing just to get from Lake City to Kenmore, where the routes overlap completely.

        At the same time, they do very different things. You wouldn’t take the 522 to the U-District or Capitol Hill, while taking the 522 usually gives you a much faster ride to downtown than transferring to Link.

      2. “You wouldn’t take the 522 to the U-District”

        That’s where I wonder about the worth of the 372 as an overlay. When 145th Station opens, it will be faster to take 522+Link to the U-District than the 372. The 372 is already poky just from Lake City to the U-District. This gets into express vs local. The only unique part of the 372 is central Lake City, 25th Ave NE, and U Village, so it’s the “local” part. If your destination is close enough, because the 372 can be frustratingly slow. There aren’t many people going from Bothell and Kenmore to specifically Lake City or 25th. And both 45th and 65th will have RapidRide so that’s another option. The 372 has cachet in going “from University to University”, but that’s such a long distance that I think people will appreciate Link’s speed.

        So the only remaining reason is capacity. ST will only commit to a certain amount of frequency, and if it needs more than that then Metro will have to provide it. This is the situation in Issaquah and Federal Way, where Metro’s peak expresses take the tons of people who can’t fit on ST Express. But BRT is supposed to be a higher level of service, with 10-minute daytime minimum. It’s hard to see that as not being enough for Kenmore and Bothell, especially if it goes up to 6-minute peaks. But maybe not. We’ve seen that 10 minutes isn’t enough for West Seattle for portions of the day. So maybe Metro knows best, especially longer term as the population continues to grow. There’s also a third route we haven’t talked about, the 312. It was on Metro’s top-10 list of most overcrowded routes a year or so ago, even though it duplicates the 522 completely (but with fewer stops in northshore). So that may be like the Issaquah situation. So either a 372 overlap really is needed, or the other outcome Metro hasn’t mentioned will happen: truncating the 372 as it is now on weekends.

      3. >> There aren’t many people going from Bothell and Kenmore to specifically Lake City or 25th.

        On the 522 about 10% of the riders, or 250 people, get on the bus headed north between 85th and 145th. Most of those (about 150) get on at 125th or 130th. So not huge numbers, but still something. Metro doesn’t have stop data, but since the two buses are practically identical through there, my guess is the numbers are similar. The 372 carries about 50% more riders than the 522. I believe the 372 has a few more runs, so that might account for the difference — along with serving 25th. As you said, some of that ridership will shift to the cross streets (65th and 45th) but I think it is reasonable to assume that you have demand somewhere in the 1,000 to 2,000 person a day range.

        That still isn’t enough to justify 15 minute headways in my book. The shift over to Link makes sense.for a lot of people. As you said, it will be very interesting to see what happens with the 372 — I doubt they leave it alone.

        The easiest thing to do politically is run it to Kenmore. That saves some money (although not a lot) while providing a good connection for two growing communities. Neither Lake City nor Kenmore is much of a destination, but that is likely to change (as they gets more and more people).

        Another alternative is to just end at Lake City (like the 41) or better yet, up at 145th. This is cheaper than running all the way to Kenmore, and provides the best connection. If the 522 BRT really runs every 10 minutes, then the two would complement each other really well. That means a two seat ride from Lake City (or 25th) to the north end of the lake. You do need service of some sort along Lake City Way — it might as well be the 372. While it is slower to get to the UW, I could also see folks along Lake City going that way anyway, at least in the middle of the day. It is one bus, and takes about 20 minutes. Depending on where specifically you are headed, it might even be faster (at least until Link adds a station at NE 130th). I think for a lot of people it becomes a “first bus” situation, which is fine.

        But there are a lot of options. A bus from Northgate (via the 75 or 41 route) doesn’t have to stop where the 41 stops right now. It could easily go a bit farther, to 145th. Eventually, when the station at NE 130th is built, that is where you will want the most frequent bus. I could easily see a bus start at 145th and Lake City Way, then take a turn at NE 130th, go by the station and then head to Bitter Lake (and beyond perhaps). But until that station is built, I think it is more likely that the area gets relatively minor changes, which means the 372 gets 15 minute service most of the day and gets truncated at 145th or Kenmore. That seems to be the bottom level of service in much of the area, and I personally think it is a great thing. It is challenging to afford that on many routes, but as the city grows, that becomes easier.

        As for the 312, I could easily see Metro just dropping it. That would mean that ST would have to run more buses during rush hour, but it really is silly to have two different agencies run essentially the same bus. Maybe for bureaucratic reasons they will, but that is still silly.

        One way to solve a capacity problem is to run express buses. That way someone from say, Kenmore gets to work a bit quicker if they catch that express. But if the 522 runs in a bus lane, and has off board payment, I’m not sure if it makes a difference. An express bus could easily just end up backed up behind the other bus anyway. Both would be headed to the same place (unlike if the BRT went to Lake City) so I’m not sure if you really gain much.

      4. The 372 should go far enough that people can transfer to the 572 at the same stop rather than crossing one or two intersections. There are a limited number of places to turn around north of 145th because the cross-streets turn into cul-de-sacs. The shortest rectangular turnaround is east on 147th, south on 37th, west on 145th. However, the next 522 stop is at 153rd. There’s a northbound 522 stop at 146th so that would work. The southbound stop is south of 145th so it would have to be moved a block north.

    3. There’s one big difference between the 372 and 522 on Bothell Way – the 372 serves every stop, while the 522 stops only about every mile or so, skipping at least half the stops. If the 372 were truncated, that would mean either the 522 would have to stop more often, leading to a slower trip, or some areas would simply lose service.

      I personally like the idea of continuing to run the 372 to UW Bothell, but removing a few more stops from the 522, basically reducing it to stopping at transfer points, only.

      1. I thought the 522 served every stop because it was the only service when it started, and the 372 was daytime-only for years. If it really is limited-stop, then Metro will have to provide local service via the 372 or some other route.

      2. The 522 doesn’t serve the stops at Bothell Way and 39th, 91st, 96th, or Beardslee and 108th. It used to stop at fewer stops, skipping 153rd, 80th, and Main and 103rd. I’m not sure when those were added, but it still doesn’t stop at every stop north of 145th.

  3. Yeah, a three-seat ride to Seattle (including a pointlessly short hop between Ash Way and LTC) would turn off a lot of people. During low-frequency intervals (weeknights and weekends), a small hiccup on Link and the 510 would extend that trip into a hopelessly long journey.

    I don’t really see the merit in duplicating the Blue Line up Highway 99. It would be more natural to continue to Paine Field on Airport Road, then turning east onto Casino Road, which would be faster for those residents.

  4. >> I don’t really see the merit in duplicating the Blue Line up Highway 99.

    Because that is where the people are. You have three census blocks over 10,000 people per square mile, making it the most densely populated part of the existing Swift Line. You give those people a one seat ride to Link, along with doubling up Swift where it makes to double it up (where you have the most people). There are just a lot fewer people along Airport Road west of SR 99.

    The other problem is that running out to Paine Field overlaps the other Swift Line far more than this overlaps the main Swift line. It would mean that this line would pretty much only be valuable for those taking it at the extremities (to Lynnwood or to Casino Road). In contrast, the 514 serves lots of new trips that the other would not. From Evergreen and 4th to 128th and 4th becomes a one seat ride (not a two seat ride). Likewise, from Evergreen and 4th to many of the businesses becomes a two seat ride instead of a three seat ride. Swift 2 will go to Boeing, but only one spot (while just about all the buses that serve the area manage to stop by Casino Road and Airport Road).

    If we only had one Swift Line, then you are right, that would make sense. It could even make sense as the second Swift Line. But the route I described doesn’t overlap either Swift line that much, allowing it complement the other routes, while doubling up service along the best parts of both.

  5. A more fundamental question: Is there a compelling reason to operate Everett Transit and Community Transit as separate agencies after Lynnwood Link opens? As this area sees increased development and linked travel patterns, the value of a separate municipal system would seem to fade.

    1. The current situation in Seattle sees the city funding Metro routes inside the city. If Everett can get decent density then it may want to keep itself separate for similar reasons.

      1. I was thinking the same thing. But I do prefer the way that Seattle does it (just fund Metro operations) as opposed to having a separate set of buses (like Everett). I think it is a lot less confusing that way.

    2. The value for you or the value for the city and residents of Everett? They’re the ones who have persistently opted out of Community Transit. They could have merged when Swift opened, but they didn’t, so instead ET pays CT for the Everett portion of Swift. It may also pay something for the two 201/202 stops in Everett, I don’t know. I assume the reason ET remains separate is they’re worried about losing service, losing control over route decisions, and why fix something that isn’t broke?

      While ET has a shorter span, I think it has routes closer together. CT is more “regional” routes in a Snohomish County context, such as MT to Lynnwood and Edmonds to Lynnwood, rather than several additional routes within Lynnwood. The only reason Seattle had more service than the suburbs in the 80s and 80s was that when Metro was formed it promised to keep the level of service and subsidy in Seattle that it inherited from Seattle Transit. That in turn led to the 40/40/20 rule, where 80% of expansion hours were funneled to the suburbs to gradually bring their level of service up to Seattle’s level. So Everett would have to have an agreement to preserve the existing level of service, otherwise CT might say that all those Everett routes aren’t giving CT taxpayers as a whole equitable value.

      1. I don’t know the history of the agencies, but I could easily see Everett merging for a similar reason Seattle Transit merged with Metro. In the case of Metro, I think the idea was to serve the suburbs better, at a time when the city was becoming more suburban. In the case of Snohomish County, things are a bit different. Not too long ago, Everett was the main city in Snohomish County. It is still the biggest city, but only because it has the biggest land area. In terms of density, Lynnwood/Edmonds/Mountlake Terrace are bigger. This wasn’t the case fifty years ago. Everett has grown considerably over the years, but the cities that are closer to Seattle have grown much faster (not only in terms of percentages, but in terms of people per acre). In other words, the center of the city has move dramatically to the south, making north Lynnwood (or maybe South Everett or even the unincorporated land between there) the center of the county. My guess is that will continue, as Seattle grows faster than Everett.

        Having a bus system reflect that makes a lot of sense. Whether Everett (still the biggest city in the region) actually wants to cede control or not is a different matter.

      2. Before Metro there was Seattle Transit and a private rural provider. According to one story, both of them were going bankrupt, so the governments gave the responsibility to Metro, which was then a standalone regional agency handling sewers. (But regional then meant King County, not King-Pierce-Snohomish.) Later Metro’s governing structure was ruled unconstituational, and King County absorbed its responsibilities.

        Everett Transit was like Seattle Transit, and I’m not sure if there was any transit outside it except to Boeing and Metro’s peak-express routes to Lynnwood, Edmonds, and Mountlake Terrace. The Snohomish voters created a transit benefit district, Community Transit, but Everett opted out of it. Everett has persistently remained out ever since. In the meantime, Lynnwood has become more of the locus of people and activities in the county and that is continually increasing. So over time Everett’s preeminent position will probably become more and more obsolete. But it might suit Everett to keep Everett Transit anyway. Lynnwood has no Lynnwood Transit, so CT is the only game in town.

      3. Everett Transit fare is $1. You travel less distance and you pay less fare, without having to deal with the issues of fare zones and resetting the ORCA machine.

        CT covers a huge area without a lot of people. Stanwood?

        An increase in fares to cover places people in Everett don’t usually go doesn’t sound like something mist there would support.

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