The nice thing about BRT is that it doesn’t take forever to open. After we approved BRT on SR522 in 2016, it will open in 2024.

ST is holding two community meetings this week to start public planning for the project:

Bothell Public Meeting
Wednesday, May 30, 6-8 p.m. (presentation at 6:30 p.m.)
Northshore Senior Center // 10201 E. Riverside Dr.

Lake Forest Park Public Meeting
Thursday, May 31, 6-8 p.m. (presentation at 6:30 p.m.)
Brookside Elementary School // 17447 37th Ave. N.E.

You can also participate online.

26 Replies to “SR522 BRT Meetings This Week”

  1. Eight years for a bus route almost all in mixed traffic or existing BAT lanes; still sounds like forever to me. On the other hand, it does make sense given how 145th St Station won’t be open till then.

    Also, is that a route revision and stop deletions I see in Bothell?

  2. IMHO, 8 years is still pretty long. Especially when it’s not even full BRT. “BRT in mixed traffic” is an unfortunate self contradiction!

    1. As someone who lives in Bothell and takes the 522 from time to time (I don’t work in Seattle but it’s a great way to get there), this project makes me wonder what the perceived benefits really are. There’s only small sections without BAT today and the most concerning part of this project is that the ST 522 express goes via Lake City to get into express lanes today. I really hope they don’t cancel that line and try to replace running in mixed traffic on 145th St as the improved. That to me screams downgrade because even swallowing the transfer and loss of a 1 seat ride to downtown, I’m wondering if it might have been better to just add BAT lanes on Lake City Way and then enable it to get transfer somewhere that makes more sense like Northgate.

      1. How can ST provide service hours to BRT 522 without shrinking route 522? During peak hours, there is still the 312. When the express lanes are closed, the 522 often gets bogged down in traffic on I-5, and even during rush hour the NB 522 routinely hits some bad traffic around 85th St and again around 125th St.

        It seems like the sensible thing is to imitate NE Seattle. When U-Link opened, the workhorse 71-72-73 routes got truncated to UW Station, while the peak hour 64/74/76 were maintained and increased a bit.

        Also on weekends, the infrequent and unreliable 522 is the only route on Bothell Way north of 130th St, so this will be a nice frequency boost for local travelers.

      2. The benefit is 10 minute peak frequency and 10-15 minutes other times, transit priority on 145th, and avoiding I-5 traffic backups. Metro’s long-range plan has two replacement routes for STEX 522: (1) upgrading the 372 to RapidRide, (2) an Express route to 65th, I-5, Mercer Street, Boren Ave, and E Cherry St. That sounds to me like overservice on Bothell Way (10-14 buses per hour) but Metro thinks it’s justified.

      3. >> How can ST provide service hours to BRT 522 without shrinking route 522?

        By paying for it using ST3 money. This is not a restructure, this is brand new money that is paying for this (I assume). I have no idea what the details are, but I don’t ever remembering them advertising this as something that replaces the old 522 route. It would make sense to view it that way, since it would be cheaper. The 522 runs a lot.during the day, as does the 372 during rush hour (for a combined peak frequency better than ten minutes). By simply reallocating the money from the 522 and truncating at 147th, you could probably get the frequency improvement mentioned.

        Has anyone heard anything official, though? Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t ST3 allocate money for service, regardless of savings made from restructuring? If so, then where will the savings from eliminating the 522 go?

    2. I think the biggest reason for the 2024 opening is that they can’t run the bus to 145th until the Link station opens first. Otherwise, there’s no train to transfer to, and the whole thing doesn’t work.

      If ST wanted to, of course, they could have used ST 3 funds to improve the frequency of the existing route, today, to match what’s coming, but that would make the BRT scheme seem less of an improvement, so they can’t do that.

      On another note, the map seems to indicate that the SR-522 BRT won’t stop on Bothell Way nearly as much as the existing route 522 does. This means that the route 372 overlay is going to be become more important, and the fact that the 372 overlay doesn’t run on weekends (route is truncated to UW->Lake City only) less acceptable.

      1. I think the biggest reason for the 2024 opening is that they can’t run the bus to 145th until the Link station opens first. Otherwise, there’s no train to transfer to, and the whole thing doesn’t work.

        They could also just get on the freeway at 145th, although they might be slower. Whatever time they saved in getting to 5th Avenue faster would be lost in traffic getting to the on-ramps (in the morning). In the evening it might be faster though (hard to say). That would be a hard sell, though, especially if they killed the original 522. You also would leave Metro scrambling to serve the Lake City area with express service to downtown, unless you kept both the old 522 and new BRT. That will eventually happen, but when Northgate Link is done, those folks can make their way to one of the other stations (instead of the slog to UW). They could start implementing the off board payment aspect of this, but that is difficult when some of the old stops aren’t on the new line (and vice versa). In both cases, this is one of the drawbacks to running to 147th instead of Roosevelt. If the project was designed to terminate at Roosevelt, the corridor that involves the freeway is largely a subset of the route that will eventually be taken. The only work that wouldn’t eventually apply would be off board stations downtown, which I would imagine Metro would be pleased to provide. That would take a lot of cross agency cooperation and creativity, and that really hasn’t been a strong point with either agency.

        I think it is possible that ST welcomes the delay, because it allows them to spend money (in the short term) elsewhere. This project doesn’t seem cheap to me (widening the street never is). They could just increase frequency (as you mentioned) but that was never mentioned as an “early win”. Just like with I-405 BRT they aren’t going to run the ST buses on that corridor a lot more often — they will simply wait until the physical changes have been made.

        Good point about the stop spacing. At first glance Metro looks at these changes and says “Great, since you are covering the corridor with very frequent service (especially during peak), we can go ahead and kill the 312”. But after noticing the stop spacing, they are likely to have to ramp up the 372 (as you mentioned).

        But they really don’t need to do a lot. Between Lake Forest Park and Kenmore, you have the 331. South of 145th, you have the 65. So that leaves only a couple gaps.

        From the looks of things, the only stops they are skipping are 165th (south of Lake Forest Park) and 80th (a bit east of the Kenmore Park and Ride). The 165th stop is in a low density area. Folks there would have to walk an extra ten minutes (at most) which is bad, but by no means the biggest weekend hole in our system. The stop on 80th (in Kenmore) has more people nearby, but it is not that far to the Kenmore Park and Ride stop. It wouldn’t surprise me if Metro just decides to do nothing, and focus their weekend efforts elsewhere.

    3. BRT in mixed traffic is called BST. “buses stuck in traffic” or Transit, on the emphasis on the BS.

  3. I think the big change for you will be in the service pattern – with BRT, you’ll get strong frequency all day, including evenings and weekends. So it’s perhaps more akin to the route getting a “RapidRide” or “SWIFT” treatment? Otherwise, yes the capital investments aren’t that dramatic – completing the BAT lanes is only about half the capital budget, with the remainder going to either parking or buying the actual buses.

    There will presumably still be some service through Lake City to replace the current ST522, but that could be done by either ST or KCM.

    Previously, serving Lake City made sense because it was “on the way” for north King commuters heading to Seattle. Once the 145th station opens, it’s no longer on the way, so it’s better served by another route. It’s not that Lake City suddenly becomes less important, it’s just better served using a different network approach.

    1. It would appear to take about 13 to 15 minutes to go from 522 and 145th to Roosevelt Station, hushing from the 522 schedules.

      Going to 145th from Roosevelt on Link would appear to take 6 to 8 minutes.

      How long will it take a 522 BRT to travel the 145th segment between the 148th station bus bays and 145th/522? I can’t see it being any faster than 8 to 10 minutes, especially when fighting interchange and station traffic near I-5.

      6 + 8 minutes is 14 minutes
      8 + 10 minutes is 18 minutes

      In other words, it would appear that 522 won’t really offer a travel time benefit to anyone going to Link.

      Instead, it appears to be a front for ST to justify and fund a 145th widening.

      1. Yeah, it isn’t obvious to me at all that this is the best route. Things are complicated. Start with looking at it from the perspective of a Bothell/Kenmore rider just trying to get downtown. There are four possible ways to reach Link: 145th, 130th, Northgate and Roosevelt. Northgate is the worst, as it has lots of twists and turns that take up a lot of time. NE 130th doesn’t have a lot of traffic, but it involves backtracking (from 125th to 130th) — more of a backtrack than the station at 147th. So that leaves Roosevelt versus 147th.

        It is quite possible that Roosevelt is faster, as you say, especially if you put the same amount of money into it. Parts of Lake City Way already have bus lanes, and other parts could add them easily. There will be places where it is too narrow to take any parking (any time of day) but those places are relatively small.

        At a minimum, ST should have studied it. But in typical ST fashion, they didn’t. Rather than state an objective (get folks from Kenmore and Bothell to Link quickly) they picked a route, and then figured out how to make it decent. So we will likely never know whether it would have been a much better value to use Roosevelt.

        There are other things to consider as well. Once you make improvements on a corridor, those improvements can be used by other buses. It is fairly common to have a limited stop express, along with a route that serves more stops or a route that has a tail there. In the case of 145th, that seems highly likely. Right now the 65 just ends at 145th and 15th NE. It would be trivial to keep sending it to the station at 147th. Likewise, the 73 ends at the same stop, and the 373 goes right by it. The 347 would benefit without any change to the route at all. So it is quite possible that this work will benefit plenty of other bus routes.

        But the same is true for Lake City Way. The 75 and 372 use it, so it stands to reason that other buses would as well. The 67 uses Roosevelt Way, so improvements to that section would help that bus. So from that perspective it really sounds like a wash to me.

        Then there is the question of what the bus network will look like once this is done or even what it should look like in general. The area is complicated from a geographic standpoint, so there is no obvious network.

        I think the only obvious flaw in the entire thing is that it ends at 147th. There is nothing there. It also means that unless we muck with the area to the west — which actually is not that complicated, and could easily have a grid — we are talking about a lot of three seat rides. A trip from Kenmore to Northwest Hospital would either involve taking the train south to Northgate and the bus back up north, or waiting for some sort of connector bus from the freeway to Meridian. Either way that is the kind of trip that leads people to drive (no matter how bad the traffic is). Same goes for trips along Aurora or Greenwood Avenue.

        Meanwhile, NE 130th would have its own very frequent bus. On the eastern end, it would make sense to connect to this line, to minimize transfers, and provide one stop rides for folks along that part of Lake City to Link. The challenge would be finding a good live loop or parking spot. To the west a bus like that would certainly go to Greenwood, and could easily go south as an extension of the D. Either way I think it would be a popular bus, and likely more popular per mile than this project.

      2. It’s another example of a bunch of non-transit-riders drawing lines on a map, Ross. I think they were motivated primarily by a non-transit goal — to widen 145th — and realized that piggy-backing onto ST3 would enable that to happen. They put a committee together and came up with the fixed project alignment — then lobbied to get it included.

        I think that had they thought through things from a regional perspective of a rider and transit performance, they would have considered using Lake City Way. The irony is that the 522 corridor would get more ridership and productivity using Lake City Way to Roosevelt — enough to probably warrant more frequent transit service than what they will end up with when ST ends up needing to do some performance-based scheduling in about ten years.

        Another tragedy is that once ST3 passed, ST didn’t want to revise the 145th St station layout — except to push it further from 145th and put in a punishing bus loop that is almost fatal for any through buses! (I’m still amazed at how the bus loading area for 185th was put into the ground level of the garage, but ST left 145th alone). It’s very non-sensical. Taking the route alignment to Aurora should have been a no-brainer.

        Without political boundaries, I probably would have suggested looking at a county line infill Link station and a Ballinger/Edmonds alignment for this (ending at the ferry terminal). As a multi-county transit agency, ST is in the unique position of having BRT corridors that cross county lines — and a station there would have been a great terminal for RapidRide, Swift and this!

        The Northwest Hospital access is a whole other can of worms! Ultimately, I think it will be a candidate to have a driverless bus shuttle but that’s probably way too visionary for this city right now.

        It’s funny that you should mention the double-transfer issue (with the one station Link trip in the middle). That’s what several transit advocates are recommending for West Seattle this month. The importance of single transfers seems lost in the system planning discussion of the spine (Link) and rib (feeder bus) network design. When I mentioned this very issue on here a few weeks ago about West Seattle, other commenters here thought it didn’t matter.

      3. Is it really impossible for Metro to run a route that goes down 145th from Lake City to Bitter Lake in a straight line? Just because a bus loop is there doesn’t necessarily mean that every bus that passes through the vicinity has to use it. People who want to transfer can walk a few hundred feet.

      4. Is it really impossible for Metro to run a route that goes down 145th from Lake City to Bitter Lake in a straight line? Just because a bus loop is there doesn’t necessarily mean that every bus that passes through the vicinity has to use it. People who want to transfer can walk a few hundred feet.

        Yeah, I suppose. But this is different than, say, the detour to serve Northwest Hospital (via the 345) or the VA (via the 50). My guess is the vast majority of riders would get on or off at that stop. If the numbers break as I expect, it puts Metro in a terrible bind. Let’s assume that 60% of the riders are headed there (which seems reasonable to me). About 20% never crossed the freeway, while another 20% do. Now look at the choices:

        1) Just drop people off on 145th. An extra 5 minutes of walking for 60% of the riders. That works out to an average of 3 minutes per rider.

        2) Serve the stop directly. 20% of the riders spend an extra five minutes on the bus, as it goes back and forth to serve the station. That works out to an average of a minute per rider. Meanwhile, 100% of the riders lose out in terms of frequency, since the bus takes longer to complete its run. I don’t know how long a run from Bothell to Greenwood Avenue would take, but I will estimate 45 minutes. So this detour costs an extra ten percent of the run, which I assume means 10% fewer runs. Instead of ten runs every couple hours, there are nine. That works out to about a minute or extra waiting (on average). So, on average, that means an extra two minutes per rider.

        So, basically, no matter what they do, we are talking about a two to three minute delay per rider, per trip, or about five minutes a day. That doesn’t seem like much, but it is essentially why we are spending billions on this system. The whole point is to save people time, and that kind of time is significant. More to the point, it wouldn’t cost a dime to avoid it.

        Oh, and speaking of Northwest Hospital, I was simply using it as an example of the places along that particular corridor, which is the weakest of the three. The point being that there are people going from west of I-5 to east of I-5 that far north. A lot of people live on Greenwood and Aurora (and even a fair amount on Meridian), and many want to go to Bothell, for example (to the campus or for work). Having a bus cut over would screw up the route, and make for the same sort of delay that having the station at 147th will cause.

    2. >> I think the big change for you will be in the service pattern – with BRT, you’ll get strong frequency all day, including evenings and weekends.

      The 522 is pretty strong now, and when you add in the 312, it becomes very strong. Between the two of them you have service that:

      Starts at 4:30 AM (from UW Bothell). Runs every 10 minutes starting at 5:30 AM, then runs every five minutes or so until 9:00 AM. It then runs every half hour until 8:30, then continues every hour until around midnight. Saturday and Sunday the bus runs every half hour from around 5:30 AM to midnight.

      So there is obviously room for improvement, but that is still a bunch of buses. By simply truncating the bus at Roosevelt, for example, you could probably fill in the gaps, and then some. In other words, by not spending another dime, but just using the existing Roosevelt bus depot, you could probably run buses at least every ten minutes until midnight, every day of the week. That would actually be similar to the Metro truncation you mentioned, in that it didn’t cost the agency a dime..

      As you mentioned, some of this money is going into making 145th wider. Some of it is going into branding, as well as off board payment (I assume). But whatever is going to go into service could likely have happened anyway. ST will likely shift service around, which means that whatever this area is paying for in terms of service will essentially go towards making all the buses more frequent.

      Unless, of course, there is some cutback in bus service that is expected to happen at some point (that I’m unaware of).

      1. It’s only strong from a peak service standpoint in the direction of the express lanes. Currently, once 10am rolls around, no 312 and 522 every 30 minutes. And when the 522 is in the general purpose lane of I-5, its speed drops right along with the car traffic.

        The improvement with Roosevelt, is that you can get another high frequency route that would compliment the 372 and get you on an arterial with human life along with transferring at stops with stuff nearby.

      2. Yeah, it isn’t great during the day, but it still isn’t horrible. The point is, it wouldn’t take that much to make it very good. An extra couple runs every hour, and you have 15 minute service all day, which is really outstanding for a run like this (one that is largely commuter based, and will largely be commuter based no matter how often the buses run). My guess is simply by truncating, you would achieve that kind of headway. The idea that “we bought extra frequency on this run” while at the same time saying “we need to kill the old 522 to pay for the extra frequency” is a contradiction. They probably could have excellent frequency (as much as they will likely have) by virtue of the truncation, just as Metro achieved very substantial frequency improvements when truncating many of their routes.

        I also agree about your point on Roosevelt as being an actual destination, as opposed to just a transfer point. My guess is Metro will serve that connection for that and plenty of other reasons (relatively fast connection to Link, on the way to the U-District, etc.). As I said in my other comment, having this go to Roosevelt might be better, but not necessarily better than if it went via 145th to Greenwood Avenue (or to Shoreline CC, as suggested above). If this went to Roosevelt, then Metro would likely want to run something that started at Shoreline CC and ended at 145th and Lake City Way. But now Metro will want to run something like I suggested (Lake City to Roosevelt). The only really big mistake is not continuing this on to Greenwood Avenue. You shouldn’t stop a bus like this before it can make three more significant connections, especially when it will stop in the middle of nowhere.

  4. I do like the irony that the Lake Forest Park community meeting about improved public transportation is being held at a location that doesn’t appear to be served by any public transportation. It seems SR 522 to Brookside Elementary involves a 10-15 minute walk on narrow roads that don’t have sidewalks or shoulders.

    1. There is a (windy) sidewalk on Brookside Blvd and a newly built sidewalk on NE 178th.

      Too bad they couldn’t secure the Third Place Books stage as a venue.

  5. Would love to see this line be extended to Shoreline CC with stops at Meridian, Aurora and Greenwood Ave.

  6. I have to wonder what would be different if the ST3 deciders handed over this project and funding to Metro.

    The big benefit to keeping it at ST is to promote good connections. The subsequent 145th Station layouts don’t show this; the only way to optimize it would be to bust a 148th busway through the Shireline neighborhood.

    Had Metro led the project, the bus interfacing would be a higher priority. Things like an Aurora extension, a split to Roosevelt or even a BRT to Ballard as a west branch, or a split for 405 south as an east branch could have been integrated.

    We often look at projects as similar regardless of lead agency, but the lead agency culture shapes the project more than we realize.

  7. BRT is just a bus with a fancy name. There’s already a bus with dedicate bus lanes along most of SR 522. Unless BRT means 100% lane dedication, including zero obstruction from turning vehicles, stalled vehicles, bicyclists, and parked cars, then BRT is the biggest waste of money since the Bertha incident.

    The money would be better spend building just one light rail station of the future Ballard-Northgate-LakeCity-Kenmore-Woodinville line extension.

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