Over the last three years, we’ve gotten used to a continuous stream of service improvements from Metro. The pattern continues with this fall’s service change, which starts next Saturday, September 22. There are almost no substantive changes to Metro service this time around. The big picture is a peanut-butter-style scattering of new trips throughout the Metro system, some funded by Metro itself and some by the Seattle TBD.
New 10-Minute Service
The most headline-worthy addition is that routes 41, 70, and RapidRide E Line go to 10-minute frequency during the day on weekdays. This is a minor adjustment for the E Line, which already has 10-minute frequency most of the time, and just needed a few gaps filled. It’s a bigger change for the 41 and 70, both of which have 15-minute midday service today. Weekend and evening service will remain at current 12- to 15-minute frequencies on all three routes.
SR 99 Reroutes
Metro has finally disclosed what will happen to West Seattle Bridge and SR 509 service once the Alaskan Way Viaduct closes. The changes will happen in two phases.
Phase 1 covers the time when both the viaduct and the new SR 99 tunnel are closed. Plans for this phase remain subject to change. Routes that currently use the Alaskan Way Viaduct to reach the West Seattle Bridge, including RapidRide C Line, 21 Express, 37, 55, 56, 57, 120, and 125, will use surface streets: 4th Ave northbound, and the current route 21 routing (but without local stops) southbound. Service on these routes will be slower, but stop locations shouldn’t change. Routes that proceed south on Highway 99, including 113, 121, 122, and 123, will use 1st Ave S south of S Lander St, missing stops along E Marginal Way S and resulting in a long walk for passengers in that area.
Metro will shift to Phase 2 after the SR 99 tunnel opens and the new ramps connecting SR 99 to S Dearborn St are operational. All ex-Viaduct service will use 1st Ave S to reach those ramps and then resume normal route along SR 99, serving all normal stops. The Phase 2 routing will likely be in place for several years, until the City of Seattle has completed construction of the new Alaskan Way as far as Columbia St. 1st Ave S service has in the past been prone to delays, and it is still not clear if buses will receive any priority along 1st Ave S between Columbia St and S Dearborn St.
Other changes, all minor, below the jump.
Other Frequency Improvements
Metro is making a few frequency improvements that don’t reach the 10-minute level:
- Route 240 serving Renton, Newcastle, and Bellevue will gain 15-minute midday service.
- Through-routed routes 31, 32, and 75 connecting Fremont, UW, and Sand Point will collectively have 15-minute frequency (30 minutes on the 31 and 32 tails) extended until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
- Route 345 connecting Northgate and Bitter Lake will have 30-minute night frequency extended until 10 p.m. weekdays.
- RapidRide F Line will gain 15-minute evening service until 10 p.m. on weekends.
- Route 180 will have scheduling improvements to existing trips to allow consistent 15-minute service in the peak direction during peak hour on its busiest segment between Kent and Auburn.
Increased Peak Service
Metro is adding peak trips to address overcrowding and improve peak frequency on many routes throughout the system, including RapidRide C, D, and E Lines and routes 3S, 5, 8, 17, 18, 28, 40, 56, 57, 62, 63, 111, 114, 120, 181, 245, 331, 345, and 372.
Metro usually avoids trips that end before the usual end of the route, but is scheduling them for route 40 during the afternoon rush hour to address severe overcrowding between South Lake Union and Ballard. If you ride Route 40 past NW 85th St in the afternoon, make sure your bus is signed “Northgate,” not “Crown Hill.” During the busiest two hours, northbound route 40 will now have 5-minute frequency, but with only half of trips continuing to Northgate.
Minor Routing Changes
There are no significant route changes, but passengers on a few routes may want to watch out for detail changes.
- Commuters who use the Rainier Ave S/I-90 freeway stop will need to revise their commutes, because the freeway stop is closing for Link construction. Routes 7, 9, and 106 will connect with Sound Transit route 554 at Rainier Ave S and S Charles St. Connections from Rainier Ave S to other Metro or Sound Transit I-90 routes will require either a trip downtown or a second transfer from ST 554 at Mercer Island or Eastgate.
- I-90 routes 111, 114, 212, 214, 216, 217, 218, and 219 will be changing their outbound stops at the south edge of downtown. They will no longer serve stops on 5th Ave S, and will pick up instead at 2nd Ave Ext S and Yesler Wy. This will result in a longer walk for commuters going home from the International District. Route 630, alone, will continue to pick up at 5th Ave S & S Jackson St.
- Some route 73 trips in the reverse peak direction will be extended into route 373 trips, providing new reverse peak service to several Shoreline destinations.
- Route 128 will no longer serve any stops south of Baker Blvd in Southcenter.