S. Kirkland Park and Ride - 12: MT 255 headed towards Kirkland

Metro and Sound Transit have a new proposal to restructure bus service on the “North Eastside” in order to take advantage of new opportunities arising from University Link and improvements in the SR 520 corridor. Metro abandoned a previous effort to make similar changes right after U-Link opened due to a perceived absence of public comment. Riders interested in increasing the utility of the bus network to get multiple places in a short amount of time should be sure to comment this time.

While University Link was a squandered opportunity, three new stimuli are coming: closure of the Downtown Transit Tunnel to buses in March 2019, closure of the Montlake Flyer stop, also in March 2019, and Northgate Link opening in 2021. Beyond that, East Link and I-405 BRT will provide yet more options. Riders will have to deal with the immediate challenges using the existing network next summer, but in September 2019 there could be a restructure with the following ingredients:

  1. Redirect Kirkland’s workhorse, the 255, to UW Station to avoid the 520/I-5 mess and Downtown Seattle surface streets, with operating savings going into more frequency.
  2. Flush most of the network of low-ridership, zigzagging routes that serve Kirkland in favor of somewhat straighter routes.
  3. Fix the Montlake Triangle bus stops, as advocates have asked Metro, Sound Transit, and UW to do since well before U-Link opened.
  4. A new ST Express route from Redmond and Kirkland to South Lake Union.
  5. New, Uber-ish  “Community Ride” service in Woodinville (weekend-only) and Kenmore. The vanpool-ish “Community Van” service would extend to Kirkland from its current scope in Bothell, Woodinville, and Kenmore.

Existing freeway peak expresses to Downtown Seattle would not change, so most people still have their rush hour one-seat rides into downtown Seattle. More on the changes below.

The 255 would run from Totem Lake to UW Station, instead of Brickyard P&R to Downtown Seattle. Some peak headways would drop from 30 to 15 minutes. Night frequency would double. Currently atrocious 2 bus/hr weekend frequency would double to 4. The 255 would also run to midnight all weekend, making it a more viable nightlife option.

The new Kirkland transit network is a little hard to get your head around without particular source/destination pairs in mind. It is not really a gridded design, though it’s a bit closer than the current network. Metro took a shot at summarizing the tradeoffs for each neighborhood. Broadly speaking, there are fewer buses crossing I-405 again and again, which should probably help reliability and be more direct.

The 7 routes going away (234, 235, 238, 243, 244, 248, and 277) have 4,700 daily riders combined, or fewer than Route 65. Four have 30 minute headways and three (243, 244, 277) are peak expresses. Five new routes (225, 230, 231, 239, 250) will replace them. The new routes would all run every 30 minutes during the day, except that the 250 (Bellevue-Kirkland-Redmond) would be every 15 minutes, a doubling of current frequency in the 85th corridor. The 930 would move from a peak-only DART route to all day.

Montlake (click to enlarge)

The long-overdue Montlake triangle improvements would have many, but not all, routes serve the station and campus sides instead of the hospital side. There would be a dedicated left turn signal to turn onto Pacific Place. The agencies estimate a 6-8 minute walk from train platform to bus stop. Metro intends these improvements to make the transfer to U-Link palatable.

Sound Transit

Sound Transit would consolidate the peak-only 540 and 541 — redundant with the new 255 — into the 544, a 12-to-15-minute-headway, peak-only route from Overlake to South Lake Union.

A stop at South Kirkland might be time-consuming for through riders, but it does provide good transfer opportunities.

There are public meetings on these proposals across the Eastside, from today through November 7th. There is also an online survey.

91 Replies to “Metro Mulls a Kirkland Redo”

  1. Living in Seattle, I have no horse in the bus routes on the east side. But the improvements along Montlake Blvd are long overdue. What I don’t understand is the need to square off the intersection of Pacific Place and Pacific St in front of the hospital. This will just slow buses down as they make that turn compared to the existing geometry. If ambulances need to get into the hospital more expeditiously, they can put a curb cut in the existing center median. Other vehicles coming from the north to the hospital can continue to do what they do now, using Pacific St. Why slow buses down to make those few vehicles route easier?

    1. “This will just slow buses down as they make that turn compared to the existing geometry.”

      Looking at the picture, the impact seems negligible. If the bus has to wait for the stoplight, anyway, what difference does it make whether the bus can make the turn at 10 mph or 12 mph?

  2. How about: no more 520 buses headed downtown – that trip is much faster and more reliable on the train and a transfer. Instead, run every 520 bus to U District station, and continue at least some of them across north Seattle (to intercept north-south bus lines directly) or into SLU and First Hill. For the latter, using the express lanes from 42nd to Mercer, then crossing to First Hill on 8th under the convention center, would provide fast express service (at least in the peak direction) to two poorly-served activity centers while creating a frequent link between the UW Hospital, biotech firms in SLU and other hospitals in First Hill. With the tunnel closed to buses, it’s time to think where they can be used to tie the network together in places less-directly served with rail.

    1. Evenings and weekends the trip is much faster and more reliable to continue to downtown. It is generally less than 10 minutes from Montlake to 5th/Pine. The Montlake bridge and University events create unreliability. 10 minutes is about the time it will take to pass the traffic lights and reach the platform.

      The only time that the transfer may be time neutral is during rush hours. It is the peak-only buses that should be truncated. The all-day service (255 and 545) should be the ones to go to downtown.

    2. Rob, OK. Will the agencies consider changes they have not asked the riders about? They have sometimes done so.

  3. “The agencies estimate a 6-8 minute walk from train platform to bus stop.” How do they get this estimate? I’m really confused about this. When I first read this, it actually made me think they were making the transfer even worse (because the current transfer times aren’t that bad, for me personally), but then I looked at the map for the new stops and saw that it would in fact be better. It only takes me about 2 minutes to get out of UW station (I actually do time it sometimes, because I’m weird), from platform to street level. Then the light to cross Montlake Blvd can be a horrendously long wait, but in this new scenario you wouldn’t even have to cross if you’re getting on a northbound bus. What am I missing?

    Is the 6-8 minute figure assuming that people stand rather than walk on the escalators? Or maybe it is accounting for extra time that it may take people who walk more slowly or people with disabilities to make the transfer? (The elevator seems faster than escalators if you don’t have to wait for it, but if you need the elevator you might have to wait for the next one :( since they fill up, which could add a few minutes.) Or maybe the time it takes to get out of UW Station is going to increase with the increased ridership? And I guess if you are transferring to a southbound bus then your transfer time is dependent on that god-forsaken signal at Montlake & Pacific, which can add a few extra minutes, especially if you just miss the light.

    1. It includes the time to go up the escalators and is probably based on the conservative assumption that one would be standing the whole way up (which, from my observation, about 80% of the people do, in fact, do). So, that’s 4 minutes to the surface, 1 minute walk to the crosswalk, up to 2 minutes to wait for the light, plus one more minute to walk to the bus stop – total: 6-8 minutes. Of course, if you walk up the escalators or take the elevator, the actual time may be considerably faster than that.

      Going down, the bus stop is right in front of the station, so the trip to the train platform should be 4-5 minutes, max.

    2. The purpose of an escalator is to avoid walking up/down stairs, so it would be based on that. You can’t realistically expect average people to walk up or down more than one short flight.

      However, at UW station I often see twenty people walking up and I’m the only one standing, so it must be easy for twentysomethings.

    3. At this point in our system’s development, I think it’s asking a lot to time a connection less than fifteen minutes ahead. Less to do with stairs and elevators than with traffic- seeing we’re barely getting any fully reserved bus lanes at all.

      Though after you’ve ridden your routes for awhile, you’ll develop a sense of where you have to be when,

      Mark

  4. Overall, this looks very good, particularly the much more frequent service on the 255 and much straighter service to Bothell and Woodinville.

    Even though today’s service from downtown Kirkland to UW Bothell and Woodinville is, on paper, a one-seat ride, the ride is so meandering and circuitous that it takes around 45-50 minutes – on a Saturday – for what, by car, is just a 10-15 minute drive. The proposed changes cut the travel time in half, giving you a bus route that largely follows the path one would use to drive between the destinations. (In fact, if I ask Google for driving directions and check “avoid highways”, it gives me exactly the routes that Metro is proposing for the 230 and 231).

    The 255 all-day frequency improvements are long overdue. I work in Kirkland and plan on moving there soon (replacing a long bus ride with a short walk). After the move, the 255 restructure would make a huge difference to me, visiting Seattle on evenings and weekends. I expect to make substantially more bus trips and fewer Lyft/Uber trips across the lake if the change goes through vs. if it doesn’t.

    Some changes I am more lurkwarm about:
    225 – The change would make it harder to visit St. Edwards State Park vs. the do-nothing alternative, but that might be bias from my personal situation. From the perspective of the greater good, I understand the need to have some bus run down 132nd, and not send everything to DT Kirkland, plus Totem Lake is getting bigger, in homes and jobs, and retail, and the connection to I-405 BRT to DT Bellevue will be much faster than riding the 234 all the way through is, today.

    544 – This is the only part of the change that feels like a net negative. Getting in and out of South Kirkland P&R adds a lot of a time, and a Redmond->SLU commuter could do just as well by riding the 545 to Stewart/Denny and either walking or transferring to another bus, such as the 70 or 8. It also comes at the cost of reducing the frequency of Redmond->U-district service, at a time when I-5 traffic is getting a worse and worse, making the U-link transfer more and more relatively attractive for going downtown – especially with the rerouting in the Montlake Triangle. If the goal is to serve SLU directly, I would rather take some trips out of the 545 to do it, than the 541/542. There is also no reason for the Redmond->SLU bus to serve South Kirkland P&R. Transferrees from Kirkland will be on the 255, and can make the connection just as easily from Yarrow Point, without imposing delays on everybody else on the bus. Perhaps the intention was to cater to people who might want to drive to the P&R to ride the 544 to SLU, but South Kirkland P&R is already full each weekday, so that would just mean that the P&R fills up a little bit earlier, not really adding any new riders to the system.

    In addition, Metro should look for opportunities to fix papercuts in the transit network that needlessly add time to people’s everybody commutes, without providing much benefit. For example, the westbound 245 makes a loop into Houghton P&R – even at hours when there is no I-405 bus to connect to – accomplishes nothing except to waste everyone’s time, while also making access less convenient for people who live in the apartments across the street from the P&R. The 248’s loop into Bear Creek P&R also needs to go, as it forces everyone up Avondale Road to sit through a ten-minute detour to get anywhere on a bus – while picking up almost no riders in the process (it’s also redundant with the 545, which already connects Bear Creek P&R to DT Redmond). The good news is that most of the crazy twists and turns, Metro did, indeed, remove in its proposal (see above), so I don’t have a lot to comment on, here.

    Finally, while this is not really in scope for the north Eastside, Metro should consider restructuring the 271 similar to what they are doing with the 255 – prioritizing frequent, 7-day a week service, on the core part of the route, at the expense of off-peak service to the hinterlands. The 271’s weekend service, needs more frequency between DT Bellevue and the U-district, and it should come at the expense of service to the Issaquah tail (those traveling all the way from U-district->Issaquah can already get there faster by riding Link downtown and catching the 554, so the value of the one-seat ride over such a long distance is almost zero).

    1. “those traveling all the way from U-district->Issaquah can already get there faster by riding Link downtown and catching the 554”

      I was at the Issaquah Highlands once and decided to stop in Bellevue on my way back to Seattle. So I considered taking the 554 to Issaquah TC and transferring to the 271, but it was a 20 minute transfer wait, and then a 40-minute meander after that. So instead on remained on the 554 to Mercer Island and took the 550 back to Bellevue, and then the B. It was faster and more frequent than the other way. It reminded me of high school when I lived on Somerset for several months and found it most convenient to take the 210 to Mercer Island and transfer to the 226 back to Bellevue High School. The 271 is just not an attractive route from Issaquah to Bellevue. And coincidentally, it’s the successor to the 252 that went from Somerset to Bellevue when I was in high school, which was also not as good as the 210+226 combination. (at least when you could catch the 210 with its 90-120 minute frequency).

    2. 225 — I think it makes getting to Saint Edwards a lot better. The bus will stop close to the heart of the park, which means a shorter walk to Bastyr. Side note: Google doesn’t show all the trails in the park, nor does it show the crosswalk that was added at 143rd (although it shows the construction going in — https://goo.gl/maps/KsXoPMRM45C2). This will shorten the time it takes to get to Bastyr quite a bit. The 225 will also cross more bus routes, which means making a transfer is a lot easier.

      544 — I agree completely about the detour to Kirkland Park and Ride. That is completely unnecessary — folks making that trip should do it via Yarrow Point. The amount of time saved for someone making that trip is minimal (about two minutes) while the time everyone else has to spend is huge. Backtracking on the freeway is very fast — it is the time spent exiting and getting to the park and ride that takes so long.

      There is an additional advantage for a handful of riders by making the detour. If you live close to the park and ride, you avoid a transfer (if you are headed to South Lake Union). But both buses are supposed to be frequent and there are few people walking to the park and ride. It also avoids a third transfer if you are planning on taking another bus from the park and ride. Except that in most cases, there are better options. The 249 actually goes between Overlake and the South Kirkland Park and Ride, which means it would be silly to transfer to it. It also doesn’t make much sense to transfer to a bus headed towards Bellevue (there are better options for an Overlake to Bellevue trip). So that basically leaves the Lakeview Drive part of the new 250, but for that, you could take the frequent 245 and head south. There just aren’t enough combinations to make this detour worth it. The small number of people who would save a little bit of time is dwarfed by the much larger number who would suffer from a big, time consuming detour. Metro already has the 249 joining Overlake with South Kirkland, and those that want to transfer to the 255 can use that or transfer at Yarrow Point.

      If there is one piece of this that needs to be fixed, that is it. Kill that little detour, and put that into running these (or other buses more often). Well, that and truncate the express buses at the UW.

  5. The UW improvements seem great.
    I wish they’d clarify which buses will stay on Montlake.

    The 541 diversion to S Kirkland Park and Ride adds a bunch of lights, fiveish? all very congested at peak.
    It would be disastrous.
    The 540 is a total of 8 runs in the morning, whereas the 541 is actually pretty frequent at peak.
    The current 541/542 interlining makes UW – Redmond tolerable.
    Diverting the 541 destroys that. It would always be faster to wait for the next 542.

    In a better world ST would put service hours into an all day 542 that loops the triangle, and make the 545 peak only.

    1. My assumption is that only the 255/542 use the new pathway, while other routes like the 48 and 271 are unchanged.

    2. Especially because the diagram says “to Eastside”, not “to Eastside and Central Seattle”. It will be another case where suburban riders and peak expresses get delivered closer to the station than mundane local riders do.

      1. The 48 has a large body of existing riders going to the u district, for whom a detour to the station would simply be delay. Also, much of the #48 corridor, they don’t need a Link transfer anyway – they can just ride an wast/west bus directly downtown.

        The 255 is different, in that most of the existing ridership is going downtown, so you if you don’t make a special effort to be sensitive to the needs, then the entire restructure won’t get through the public process. I am willing to put with a couple extra minutes to the u district, if that’s what it takes to be the frequency improvements to happen, because the frequency improvements are so much more important.

  6. Martin, exactly what opportunity have we missed regarding University Link? Chance to set up the new cross-lake service when UW station opened? Survivable. But if we’re being bum’s rushed into any decision with a 11 days’ notice, ought to be a very pointed and very public No Go.

    To me, anything crossing the Lake from UW Station is just fine. Arrangements east of the Lake, up to the locals. But will not be forced to ride the 255 from Downtown for any reason.Don’t trust either traffic from I-5 east. or ST/Metro’s ability or will to fix a problem.

    For South Lake Union passengers, I won’t fight somebody else’s right to the 255, though will personally ride streetcar to Westlake Station and do the transfer at UW. But have another idea. Until I-90 re-opens, run a short-headway non-stop ST Express bus from UW Station to Bellevue Transit Center.

    With new SR520, should be about a fifteen minute trip. Transit-wise, should give us an excellent temporary I-90, with standing loads from opening day.

    Mark Dublin

  7. I’ll offer one defense of proposed ST Express 544’s diversion to S Kirkland P&R:

    That’s not really about picking up Kirkland riders to go downtown. It does that, but taking the 255 and transferring at one of the SR 520 freeway stations to ST Express 545 works just as well (and I think a lot of that will be happening).

    The unique connection the 544 provides is to connect from Overlake P&R to the businesses around Kirkland P&R. Some will also take the 544 to transfer to the 255 to head north into downtown Kirkland.

    So, basically, the S. Kirkland P&R is to serve Overlake-Kirkland commuters. How much ridership that serves I have no idea. If riders from Bel-Red area have to transfer at Overlake, the psychological aversion to a 3-seat ride probably means it is for commuters working or living at S. Kirkland P&R. However, I don’t see whether reverse-peak-direction service will be offered.

    1. Overlake-Kirkland commuters already have the 245. The Bell Red area is already connected to South Kirkland P&R by the 249. Neither of these routes are changing.

      1. Thinking about it more clearly now, I realize that riding the bus further and transferring from an eastbound bus to a Kirkland-bound bus at Yarrow Point Freeway Station, and then not diverting into the %##$#%# South Kirkland Park&Ride might be faster than the 544 to 255 transfer at %##$#%# South Kirkland Park&Ride.

        For frequency’s sake, I’d rather have just three routes along SR 520 to the north eastside, one each going to UW, SLU, and the CBD, and one each going to Kirkland, Overlake P&R, and Overlake TC the other way, with no diversion to %##$#%# South Kirkland Park&Ride.

        Overlake TC would get matched up with the most popular westside destination (presumably the CBD at least until East Link opens), Kirkland with the second-most popular (UW, I believe, but we won’t know until a non-diverted version of the 544 is tried), and Overlake TC with the third-most (SLU, I guess). Riders would then transfer at Yarrow Point or Evergreen, making great use of those amenities. Basically, that would mean keep restructured 255, 545, and straighten out the proposed 544, leaving the duplicate 542 service hours to be invested in improved frequency and/or span of service on the other three. Maybe keep a fourth route (likely the 542) just for purposes of balancing trip demand to each destination with trips, but try to make it work with three.

        Those going downtown from Kirkland could still easily transfer from a more frequent 255 to a more frequent 544 or 545. I suspect that is what most will do anyway.

        Eventually, I hope to just see a single route, from UW to the future shared station between East Link and Issaquah Link, and have it be called SR 520 BRT. But that’s a long time in the future, after Ballard Link opens.

    2. adsf2 nailed it. Folks already have the frequent 249 for that exact connection. This is basically an express 249 that makes everyone else wait. Those that are transferring to the 255 gain two minutes by avoiding the back and forth on the freeway. Everyone else has to put up with a very slow detour.

      It is very difficult to create a network if you have very slow buses. Frequency gets hammered, and trips — whether they involve a transfer or not — become very slow. Agencies end up having a foot in both worlds, retaining the old, direct routes, while trying to build a real network. You end up with very weak service all around.

      As an example, consider the 542. It does not carry a lot of riders, nor is that frequent. On paper, it is now a good candidate for deletion. There will be frequent trips from Overlake to SR 520, along with frequent trips from SR 520 to the UW. That means the 2,000 or so riders can just transfer at one of the freeway stations. With much better frequency, everyone comes out ahead.

      Except for the detour. The detour kills everything — it makes the Overlake to Seattle trip a mess. Suddenly the 542 is back to being essential, even though it only runs every half hour.

      The freeway stations (e. g. Yarrow Point) are a very expensive, yet very important investment in our transit infrastructure. They allow for a network of buses, each coming from different locations on the East Side (Kirkland, Redmond, etc.) to different locations in Seattle (the UW, downtown, South Lake Union, First Hill, etc.). But to make that work, we need to use those stops effectively. We need to send the buses onto the freeway, and then onto those stations without spending a huge amount of extra time detouring to serve other locations. Yes, it means more transfers, but ultimately it leads to a much better system.

      1. The 249 is really infrequent, and I don’t know of anyone even dreaming of changing that.

        Still, given how few riders there are going from Overlake to South Kirkland, I totally agree with your point.

  8. I’m biased because I’m a 541 rider who would be majorly disadvantaged by having to switch to the 545 or 542, but yikes this 544 thing makes no sense to me. With the weird route through SLU to Capitol Hill in the morning, plus the diversion to Kirkland, plus the fact that it takes I-5 south on the inbound trip it’s hard to imagine who this route helps get places quicker, except maybe a few Kirkland-Overlake commuters who happen to live right by the bus stops.

    1. Is it the switch to the 545 or 542 that would majorly disadvantage you, or the diversion to and around the the egregious anti-amenity known as the South Kirkland Park & Ride before you can transfer from the 544 to the 545/542?

      One thing I really dislike about the 544 is that it provides an excuse to keep all those off-road bus bays, with a bus needing to turn around, so why not there.

      I’ll say more by answering my own question down-thread.

  9. Shouldn’t the recently-released Kirkland Transit Implementation Plan be referenced in this post?

    https://www.kirklandwa.gov/Page17236.aspx

    I’m not aware of how Kirkland works, but I would think that these plans would be coordinated. Metro shouldn’t be planning service by themselves and I’d think it’s supposed to be coordinated with this plan.

    1. Kirkland’s plan is more about capital improvements to make bus routes move faster than service hour allocation, like Metro is doing.

      But, I did read through the plan, and it actually does work well with the service changes that Metro proposes. Some of the highlights include a traffic signal to help buses enter south Kirkland p&r, a queue jump for the 255 at NE 68th St, and bus lanes on Central Way between downtown Kirkland and I-405. Overall, it looks very good, and the type of thing I would not have expected a city outside Seattle to even bother thinking about.

      1. Why not just figure out how to build on-street stops and not leave 108th Ave NE at all?

        Yeah, I know, a ribbon was cut and photos were taken, but they can cut another couple ribbons and take more photos at 108th bus stops.

      2. If I lived by the park&ride, I would want to walk out to the street and save a couple minutes on my commute every day, by not having to ride the bus from the out-of-the-way bays, to the red light, and finally back onto 108th. On the return ride, it would depend on whether my residence is closer to the bus bays or the street.

      3. “Because P&R drivers are influential and don’t want to walk out to the street.”

        Fine. Provide a hyper-frequent shuttle between the street stops on 108th and the garage.

      4. The people who think this way also don’t want to ride shuttles; they want to ride only the express bus/train. They are giving up their comfortable/private car for transit, so they expect something substantial in return, namely a fast express ride with no transfers. They’re already transferring to the express bus.

        And… wait a minute. they’re only going to downtown Seattle or Bellevue, or a major destination like UW, the stadiums, or the airport. They aren’t going to park at the P&R and take a bus to Bothell or Totem Lake or Redmond; they’d just drive there instead. And if they’re anywhere north of 520, driving to the South Kirkland P&R is almost certainly out-of-direction. So who’s going to transfer to/from the successors of the 234 and 235?

      5. So, let me get this straight. Park and Ride lots are basically overflowing, forcing Metro to come up with creative solutions (https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/10/20/metro-and-chariot-partner-on-eastgate-microtransit-service/). At the same time, park and ride users are fragile little creatures, and will abandon the entire system if they have to stand by the street and catch the bus. Oh, and meanwhile, East Side riders suffers from very infrequent bus service on most of its route, along with tortuous trips between popular destinations (e. g. Totem Lake to Seattle).

        This is silly. Brent is right. just build the stops on the street, and ask people to walk to the stop (or take a shuttle). If they don’t like it, then someone else will gladly take their parking spot. Put the savings into better bus service, and the vast majority of the riders come out ahead.

    2. Metro and Kirkland have been working together on both the 2019 service proposal and the city’s transit implementation plan. But the latter is going to play out over a much longer time frame. It’s a framework for (a) figuring out how the city responds to the big metro and ST investments in the pipeline for the 2020s, and (b) prioritizing transit projects through the capital improvement program.

      But there are obvious synergies. It’s all about using service hours effectively.

  10. We should never forget why the 544 proposal has so many downsides, as a lesson for the future. We built infrastructure that made efficient and fast transit impossible. Two palatial, fast, efficient freeway stations in the Points where hardly anyone can use them (adjacent to beautiful landscaped lid parks that hardly anyone lives near), while South Kirkland P&R is (like an even worse version of Northgate TC) out-of-the-way for everyone. You give the main Kirkland-Seattle route the path through that makes most sense, then both north-south and east-west arterial routes have to eat deviations to serve the remaining corridors. Between their deviations and drivers having a 405 option, bus routes that go through South Kirkland are even less time-competitive than most local buses. But on the freeway corridors it’s even worse: a severe detour from 520 through-routes and an unthinkable one for 405 (like an even worse version of Aurora in Fremont). On top of this, a 520 freeway station in Bel-Red (future Spring District!), which could make South Kirkland transfers less necessary, does not exist.

    None of this is old infrastructure. We’ll be stuck with it for generations because we built it thoughtlessly over the last couple.

    1. Upon a lot more reflection, I can’t figure out any set of riders who will benefit from the 544 diversion.

      Yarrow Point makes transfers as easy as possible, including turning aroung between Redmond and Kirkland buses.

      1. One possible justification for the 544 diversion to South Kirkland P&R is to provide an easier connection from routes like the 249 and the new 250 to SLU/Capitol Hill. Without the deviation, people on corridors like Lake Washington Blvd and 116th Ave NE (current 234/235), N.E. 85th St (current 248), and Bellevue Way and Northup Way (current 249) would have to transfer twice to get to SLU (once at South Kirkland to the 255 and again to the 544).

        I don’t think a lot of people will use these connections, but it’s frustrating that there’s no perfect solution for everyone due thanks to the bad design of South Kirkland P&R :(

      2. Even if the P&R had on-street bus stops instead of the loop-de-loop, the deviation would still not make much sense. But at least the 255 would have better ridership north of the P&R.

        The 544 is a peak-only proposal, when the 255 will continue to run 8 times an hour. That’s not a painful transfer.

        But if there is a one-seat ride lobby, give Kirkland riders a peak-only route to SLU, and keep the 255 on 108th.

        The currently-proposed 544 east of Kirkland will be a mostly empty waste of service hours.

      3. There will be people who will come out ahead, it is just that overall, folks come out behind. The people who come out ahead are:

        1) Those making a direction connection between South Kirkland Park and Ride and Overlake. There are some businesses and residents in each location.

        2) Those that are transferring from Overlake to another bus at South Kirkland Park and Ride. The thing is, there are very few buses there that make sense from Overlake. If you are headed towards Bellevue, there are better options. If you are headed north, then there are better options. The only option that makes much sense is Lakeview Drive.

        That’s it. In both cases, there are other options, including a transfer at Yarrow Point, or the frequent 249. That is the thing about this proposal — even for Overlake to South Kirkland, you haven’t gained frequency, you’ve only gained speed.

        Thus this only makes sense if you think very few would ride this from Overlake to South Lake Union. If you think of this bus as basically two buses in one — an express 249, along with a bus from South Kirkland to South Lake Union — then it makes sense. I really don’t think we need an express 249, but I’m sure that is the thinking.

      4. Putting myself in a Metro planner’s shoes, I’m guessing they’re thinking primarily of people who drive to South Kirkland P&R to ride the 255 downtown, then transfer to another bus (or streetcar) to SLU, a trip, for which a 3-seat ride would be too much.

        I would counter that argument with:
        1) Those arriving at the P&R on the 255 can transfer at Yarrow Point with no additional connection.
        2) Since this is rush hour we’re talking about, the three-seat ride may actually turn out to be just as quick as one-seat ride. Even with the overhead of all the connections, all services are frequent, and relatively reliable (not coming from far away), with the middle link, Link, running in an underground tunnel dedicated exclusively for transit, every 6 minutes. Furthermore, route 544 only skirts the eastern edge of SLU, down Fairview, so the 3-seat ride option would also involve less walking at the end (with the option to replace the final segment with a walk, turning it into a two-seat ride with more walking at the end).

      1. a bunch of high-rise apartments mixed with office towers, and a grid involving frequent straight east-west service and straight north-south service, with some spare parking for those willing to pay to park there

      2. So you’d have to move the P&R south to the corner of 108th and Northup Way, and put the bus stops right at the corner.

        It seems to me the most efficient place for the P&R would be incorporated into the 405/520 interchange. But then you’d get no apartments or anything within walking distance, because suburban junctions and roads (both highway and local) are just bigger than Seattle ones.

      3. @Mike — Yes, you are absolutely right. You want your park and ride on the way. Freeway stations tend to be on the way for lots of buses. Places like Eastgate, Evergreen Point and Mountake Terrace make very good park and ride locations. It allows other bus routes to serve the station, at very little cost (to the system and to the other riders).

        I really see nothing wrong, though, with the South Kirkland Park and Ride. The issue I have is that ST seems to be treating it like it is on 520, when it is not. It is not on the way from Overlake to Seattle — that it the problem.

        However, it is on the way to much of Kirkland. It is a bit of a deviation for a bus that is headed towards Lake Washington Boulevard/Lakeview Drive (like the existing 234/235 or proposed 250). But it still isn’t a huge deviation, and could be made smaller if the buses just used NE 38th Place both directions and didn’t bother looping around the transit center.

        I don’t think park and ride locations have much to do with the problem. The UW station is simply not great as a bus intercept. Maybe it will be, someday, with dedicated bus lanes, a dedicated bridge (or tunnel) along with a transit station style parking spot for a bus. Then you would simply terminate all the buses there.

        Of course if there was a Montlake Station (a train station right where 520 and Link intersect) then the situation would be different. Again, you wouldn’t bother sending buses to the main part of downtown, but you would send some to South Lake Union, Belltown or First Hill, while the others would basically just turn around.

        None of that is happening here, if this proposal is approved. We still have all of those rush hour buses headed downtown (at the worst possible time) along with the 545. That is a lot of buses, slogging there way through the same part of downtown served by Link.

        Metro and ST are just nibbling around the edges here, afraid to upset their most prized customers (suburban commuters). I don’t blame them. But this change seems geared not towards the opportunities that a new train line presents, nor a good way to deal with the crowding downtown, but rather, simply a way to deal with the loss of the Montlake station. Getting from Kirkland/Redmond to Seattle won’t be much easier (for many it will be worse) but at least folks will be able to get to the UW (without first going to downtown).

      4. “all of those rush hour buses headed downtown (at the worst possible time)”

        It’s the best possible time according to a lot of suburbanites who use and pay taxes for the service, because that’s when they think they get the most value for transit. That’s where the opposition comes from and why it was large enough to make Metro and ST withdraw the most expensive restructure, and why NE Seattle buses north of 55th do the same thing. (Although that was also because it was decided when U-Link wasn’t opened yet and they weren’t sure how well it would perform.)

        However, in your favor, transferring to Link is better for destinations outside downtown near Link, and maybe also for Pioneer Square.

      5. The point is, Mike, rush hour is the best possible time to truncate — by far. It is the only time in which a transfer has a fighting chance of beating a direct bus. The rest of the time, a direct bus is much faster. That is because, at rush hour:

        1) Link is frequent.
        2) Traffic on the freeways is terrible.
        3) There are too many buses downtown.
        4) The bridge is always down.

        Thus it is the worst time — from an individual rider standpoint as well as a system standpoint — to send the buses downtown.

        I get that people want one seat express bus service. But in this case, there is little gained. The express skips the transfer and only two additional stops! That isn’t much of an express.

        The buses north of 55th are a different matter. For 520 buses, at rush hour in the peak direction, you can get to the UW station well before you can get to downtown. With buses in the north end, that simply isn’t the case. The 41, for example, would spend more time trying to get to the station then it would just heading downtown. The 74 would be the same way. The 76 can get downtown before the 71 can get to the UW. That is the difference.

      6. You/re trying to argue logically from a mathematical standpoint, saying that transferring at UW to Link is N minutes faster, or even if it’s close to the same it’s still better, or it’s more efficient. etc. They’re making a values argument, that N minutes here is worth N+10 minutes there; they weigh the factors differently. You’re not going to win until you can convince them, because they have the numbers. Otherwise Metro wouldn’t have withdrawn the proposal.

      7. I don’t know the details of the previous plan, but my guess it was withdrawn because it wasn’t very good. It didn’t offer folks enough to compensate for their loss of a one seat ride. Furthermore, at some point, you just do it. Yes, you hear complaints, but you do do what makes sense from a regional standpoint. The changes north of the UW Station were massive, and many still hate them. But Metro made them anyway (with a few minor tweaks). The point is, you can’t say “Oh, we need to do this, because downtown will be a mess” and then turn around and send the vast majority of buses there anyway. It makes no sense. This change basically asks the folks in Kirkland to do without a ride to downtown *all day long*, yet folks in other parts of town still have their express bus. It really shouldn’t be this hard. They simply have to figure out a plan that actually provides a significant benefit for those who will have to transfer at rush hour. That could include:

        1) Better frequency on the rush hour buses.
        2) More rush hour express routes (to the UW).
        3) Reverse rush hour routes to the UW.

        The UW oriented restructures had things like this. For many traditional commuters (those headed downtown in the morning) the new system is worse. The transfer is *worse* for these riders than those on 520. But they made the change anyway, in part because of the other improvements. It is easier to get downtown in the evening. It is easier to get to the UW any time of day. It is much easier to get to other parts of the city. It was a trade-off (and one many felt wasn’t worth it) but you could see the huge benefits for the entire area effected by the change.

        Now look at Totem Lake as an example. They get nothing out of this. Their express buses to downtown are the same. Getting to downtown in the middle of the day or at night is worse than ever. Getting to the UW is better, but it is still very slow — the long slog through Kirkland just takes too long.

        Imagine instead if the 252/257 went to the UW, but in exchange, they had evening service to the UW as well. That means people from Totem Lake can get to Seattle very quickly in the morning and evening. Imagine if the 268 and 277 ran every fifteen minutes, instead of every half hour. What if they added a new bus from Lake Washington Boulevard/Lakeview Drive to the UW, in exchange for sending the 255 to the UW. This would run only at rush hour, but would mean that a trip from that part of town to downtown Seattle would not involve a transfer in South Kirkland, but at the UW. Yes, your friends up the hill (on 108th) don’t have that express into downtown during rush hour, but you come out way ahead and what is more, you just might outnumber them.

        Those are the sorts of changes they should make, but instead, this just seems like they are nibbling at the edges. This seems to be oriented towards upsetting the fewest number of people (the folks who ride the 255) but as a result, they won’t please anyone. Redmond, Overlake, Totem Lake, Juanita, Lake Washington Boulevard/Lakeview Drive — no one looks like they will have a much easier way of getting to Seattle.

  11. I’ve thought a bit about having a five forty-something add a stop at S. Kirkland P&R, as a way to turn many three-seat downtown rides under a 255 reroute into two-seat rides (though that doesn’t work so well here because the number of routes that serve S. Kirkland P&R is going down, so keeping the 248 the same with added frequency and having the 230/239 combine to 15 minute frequency to Bellevue the way the 234/235 do would make this work better). The fact that ST is actually proposing this is interesting, and I don’t really think it is as super slow as people tend to think even though it’s 5-6 lights depending on the direction (but generous lights, in the sense that the paths from the freeway get a lot of traffic and therefore get a good share of green light time). I don’t recall that exit/entrance being super busy, and that makes sense since that freeway exit isn’t in a downtown of any city, it’s kind of in a low density place between Bellevue and Kirkland.

    One thing that may be worth considering if people are upset about the 541 being touched is leaving the 541 untouched (still killing the 540) and moving the 555/556 to downtown and adding a stop at S. Kirkland. In this case, the 555/556 already enter and exit the freeway at 108th (under their new faster routing), so adding a stop at S. Kirkland is less burdensome than moving the 541, and existing riders can transfer with the frequent 255. It would also add service between downtown Seattle and Bellevue which is badly needed due to reduced 550 trips. It would also help group passengers more by destination (550 to south side of downtown, and 555/556 to north end and SLU) making people’s trips faster and more uniform.

    Another thing to consider is that in my experience, the S. Kirkland P&R is less utilized than most (in my experience), so it makes sense in that sense as well. It’s cheaper to add a short diversion to a bus to serve an under-utilized park and ride than add parking to Eastgate, for example.

    1. We already know the overhead because the 234/235 is doing it now. It’s enough to be annoying but as you said it’s not like detouring downtown or in the U-District. The streets are wide, the lots are large, and there’s not that many people even if everybody within a half-mile left their house/job simultaneously. And it’s far enough away from 520/405 that nobody would drive from the freeway to there unless their destination was immediately beyond. Still, this is being positioned as a future central transfer point and Link station. Suburbanites rate P&Rs more highly than urbanites do, because it’s kind of like Northgate in far north Seattle: there’s not many major destinations in the rest of the area so it’s within the top three or five of where they do go the most in the area anyway, so the detour seems not as bad.

    2. I disagree. Just exiting the freeway is a significant time penalty. When traffic is heavy, you want to travel every inch of the HOV lane. In my opinion, this is worse than the 234/235 detour for that reason.

      Another thing to consider is that in my experience, the S. Kirkland P&R is less utilized than most (in my experience), so it makes sense in that sense as well. It’s cheaper to add a short diversion to a bus to serve an under-utilized park and ride than add parking to Eastgate, for example.

      In that is the case, and that is the goal, then skip the diversion, and just serve South Kirkland. That means someone from Overlake would have to transfer at Yarrow Point or Evergreen, which is quite reasonable. The 545 runs every 10 minutes or better during rush hour. This new bus (the 544) is supposed to run every 12 to 15 minutes. If it just ended at South Kirkland, then it could run every 10 minutes or so. So if you are headed to South Lake Union, then take the first 545, then transfer.

      It is quite possible that this is the smart strategy, even if the 544 goes to Overlake. I’m not saying I would watch a 544 go by, and then grab a 545. But if I did, chances are, I would be able to catch that 544 at Yarrow Point. That is basically the issue — who is going to use this thing from Overlake? Even if you are headed to South Lake Union, you might be better off just taking the 545 to downtown, and then taking a (more frequent) local bus. Given the stops of the 545 (at the north end of downtown) you are probably just going to walk.

      The only significant value added with the detour is a trip from Overlake to South Kirkland; that will be much faster. But given the relative unpopularity of the 249, that seems like it isn’t worth it.

      This just looks like a loser. Folks from Overlake trying to get to South Lake Union won’t like the detour, and they will stick with the 545. Folks from South Kirkland Park and Ride will use this as a way to get to South Lake Union, but my guess is there are only a handful who would do that, just as only a handful will use this as a way to get from Overlake to South Kirkland.

      I think the best thing you can say about it is that it is an experiment. If lots of people do take it from South Kirkland to South Lake Union, then maybe it should be ended there (or extended into Kirkland). If lots of people do use this as a way to get from Overlake to Kirkland, then the route (or routes like this) make sense. I just don’t see many taking this from Overlake to South Lake Union.

  12. Uh oh. Dear metro if I have to transfer I’ll take a car. Period. Because transfers SUCK if the frequency is anything more than 5 minutes. 255 should go to downtown and Amazon, or everyone is going to drive

    1. This is what I meant by the kind of people who drive to P&Rs are going only to downtown Seattle or the stadiums, not to anywhere locally.

      However, I should mention that Link at UW Station will be every 3-5 minutes full-time when East Link starts.

    2. 6 minutes is too much for you? When you’ll get there between departures most of the time and have a train waiting for you? Seriously?

    3. At least in the case of peak-hour commuters, the transfer should unequivocally *save* you time. Yes, there’s some amount of overhead in getting off the bus, walking down the escalators, and waiting for the train. But train runs every 6 minutes and, once you’re on it and moving, it’s just 6 minutes to Westlake station, guaranteed, no matter how bad the traffic is, up above.

      By contrast, staying on the bus means you get to fight traffic on I-5, the Stewart St. exit ramp, and, when the tunnel closes, Stewart St., all the way to 3rd Ave., then deal with all the buses on 3rd. In practice, this overhead of sitting in traffic and stoplights takes far longer than waiting for the train, especially, if the bus is able to drop you off right next to the station.

      Off-peak, the travel-time savings for those going downtown are less pronounced, but you also have to consider the impact on people *not* going downtown, and on route frequency. Basically, the transfer required to go downtown if the bus is headed to the U-district is far less painful than the transfer to go to the U-district if the bus is headed downtown. The former, you just hop off the bus, get on the train, maximum wait time – 10 minutes. The latter, you have the choice of waiting at Evergreen Point for another bus that runs only every 30 minutes – or, you can detour all the way downtown, and ride Link all the way back, an out-of-direction detour that would add at least 30 minutes. Having the bus continue downtown also lengthens the route, which makes it both less reliable – and less frequent – since, at the end of the day, Metro only has enough money to run so many buses all day, so, the longer the route, the less often it can run.

      “255 should go to downtown and Amazon, or everyone is going to drive.” Here, especially, be careful what you wish for. A 255 that stopped at Amazon first, on the way to downtown, would be even slower getting downtown than the 255 we have today.

      1. Off-peak, the travel-time savings for those going downtown are less pronounced, but you also have to consider the impact on route frequency.

        Yes, but that isn’t clear at all. How much time does a bus save by going to the UW versus downtown at noon? By my estimation, about 15 minutes (one way, not counting stops). Add in the stops, and it is about 25 minutes. That is a lot, but a bus like the 255 spends a lot of time just getting to the freeway. According to the schedule, it takes about 40 minutes from the start to Montlake Station. So going to the UW means around a 50 minute trip versus 75 minute trip. The 255 runs every 15 minutes, or four times an hour. With a savings of 2/3, you can run 3/2 as many runs, which means 6 runs an hour (if my math is right). That means running buses every ten minutes, instead of ever fifteen.

        OK, now consider the transfer penalty. Link runs every 10 minutes. It takes 6-8 minutes to get to the platform. So, on average, that is 12 minutes to make the transfer. Have you saved 12 minutes with the other bus? Not even close. You have gone from 15 minutes to 10 minutes — very nice, I wish more buses could do that — but that is only an average of about a 3 minute savings, while the transfer cost me 12 minutes. I’m 9 minutes behind, if my goal is get downtown.

        Now, obviously, there are other buses — buses that don’t run that often — that could have significant improvements. But going from 30 to 20 minutes (same sort of improvement) is only a five minute time savings — which is equal to the time spent waiting for the train (and less than the time spent walking to the platform).

        Making matters worse, the bus to train transfer can’t be timed. It will be random, because the bridge may go up. This makes it backwards than rush hour. At rush hour, the direct bus to downtown may be faster, but on bad days, the bus is much worse. At noon, it is reversed. A direct bus to downtown will be the consistent one, while the bus to the UW may be stuck waiting for the bridge to open.

        But a bus — even an infrequent one — can be timed. A bus that comes by every 30 minutes sucks. I get that. But if that the only bus I take, then I may time it. That means the average wait time is less of a big deal. With an untimed transfer, there is nothing I can do.

        This is why I can’t see this as an obvious win, except during rush hour. I get the fact that with Montlake Station closing, there is no easy way to get to the UW. That needs to be solved, by sending a bus to the U-District often.

        But sending dozens of buses to downtown during rush hour, and then sending “Kirkland’s workhorse” to the UW in the middle of the day is just backwards. A lot of people will react like KirklandR, and you will primarily get riders just headed to the UW, or those that can’t drive.

      2. Even if a truncation ends up being a net wash for people headed downtown, a truncation with increased frequency is still a huge win for anyone going, not just to the U-district, but pretty much anywhere in Seattle north of the ship canal. Destinations like Wallingford and Green Lake are much shorter bus rides from the U-district than from downtown.

        It’s also worth noting that, even on a weekend, the slog downtown on a bus is not fast. It is easily 10+ minutes to get from the Stewart St. exit ramp to 5th/Pine, or, eastbound, from 4th/Pine to the Olive Way entrance ramp. You can verify this yourself by simply riding the 512 with a stopwatch. Going downtown also subjects the bus to random delays resulting from whatever special events happen to be going on downtown. For instance, the “direct to downtown” service model basically means that when there’s a marathon going on, you can’t take a bus from *anywhere* in Seattle to *anywhere* on the eastside, without massive delays.

        There is one situation, though, where I do believe a direct-to-downtown service model is clearly superior, and that’s Husky football games, since the traffic around the stadium makes bus operations there nearly impossible. On gamedays only, it might make sense to just send the 255 to Westlake Station, with a downtown detour+forced transfer to Link to get to the Husky game. But, even that, though, is only a temporary situation until 2021, when the U-district station opens. At that point, the bus can just go there, instead.

      3. “The 255 runs every 15 minutes, or four times an hour.”

        It’s every 30 minutes evenings, and every 60 minutes after 7:30pm weekends. Truncating it frees up service hours to increase the frequency. Have you ever tried to go to an event in Kirkland on a Saturday evening, and had to work around the 60-minute schedule? No wonder people drive. There are also people who would take the 255 and transfer to the 45 or 44.

      4. >> Even if a truncation ends up being a net wash for people headed downtown …

        Come on. If this was a wash, or even close, I wouldn’t be arguing about it. But it isn’t. In the middle of the day, the average rider loses somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes each way. If the bridge is up, it is worse.

        Of course there are random downtown events that screw up traffic there, but as you mentioned, there are random events at the UW that screw things up there as well. It would make more sense to be more flexible, which is why there should be buses that go to the UW *during rush hour* and buses that go downtown the rest of the time. Have a 255 and 256. The 255 is the same as today, and the 256 goes to the UW. Then you can have special schedule alerts, where one bus is canceled, while the other one takes its place.

        Yes, Mike, I understand the value of adding service. But there are other ways to achieve that. Metro is basically proposing that, in a subtle change to the 255. The bus will no longer head up to Brickyard (forcing those folks to transfer). That savings alone is likely substantial, and could save enough to patch up the holes in the 255. That is because it would effect each and every run, and there really aren’t that many new runs needed to make the 255 an “all day and all night” route.

        Finally, I completely agree that it is way too difficult to get to the UW from the North Eastside. It is practically impossible in the middle of the day and at night. I just think this is a lousy solution. As I said below, the problem is the 271. It is the most frequent bus to the UW along 520 — and the only one that runs at night. Yet it doesn’t serve the freeway stations! That is nuts. We are letting millions of dollars worth of top quality transit infrastructure go to waste. The 271 should be downgraded, and in its place a fast bus that goes from downtown Bellevue to the UW, via Bellevue Way (thus stopping at the freeway stations). Then people headed to the UW would simply transfer at one of the freeway stations, and get to the U-District just fine. Yes, I know that for folks headed to the UW this means an extra transfer, but for many, they would make that transfer anyway, to get to the rest of campus. The little loop around the triangle may be fine from an operational standpoint, but it is really not the heart of the area, which is why most buses just keep going to the U-District. It only makes sense if your goal is to connect to Link, and that only makes sense during rush hour (either direction).

    4. “staying on the bus means you get to fight traffic on I-5, the Stewart St. exit ramp, and, when the tunnel closes, Stewart St., all the way to 3rd Ave., then deal with all the buses on 3rd”

      I used to reverse-commute on the 71/72/73X. The baseline travel time from Campus Parkway to Convention Place was 20 minutes. But at least once or twice a week it took 30 minutes, and at least once or twice a month it took 40 or 45 minutes, because of random backups on Eastlake or Stewart Street related to the Stewart/Denny I-5 exit (the same one the 255 uses). Northbound between 7:30am and 10:30am it used the I-5 regular lanes and get off at 45th, and at least once a week it would backup downtown, at the 45th exit, or after the 45th exit to Roosevelt. The unpredictable time made it difficult to transfer, especially to a 30-minute route. And all these delays would cause the bus to be unreliable so most days it would show up 5-10 minutes late, so you had no idea when to arrive at the bus stop. With Link all that goes away. And with the 520 tolls, 520 doesn’t back up even a fraction of what it used to.

      1. The “reverse commute” part of that trip is by far the worst. Same with the 41. Traffic is often much worse going in that direction than going the more popular way (because the express lanes aren’t in your favor). So not only do buses not have the same ramp options, and no HOV lanes, but they have to put with worse traffic than single occupancy cars headed making a traditional commute.

  13. I think we have enough reasons to split the 271 in Bellevue.
    1) The DT Bellevue, U-District section sees much higher rider ship than the longer Issaquah section.
    2) There are much faster options to get between Issaquah and the U-District, even if they did sort out that ridiculous Eastgate P&R and Bellevue College loop-de-loop.
    3) The buses regularly are bunched by the time they get to Bellevue from Issaquah, effectively halving the frequency.

    1. 1. Definitely.
      2. There would be even more if the 556 had a longer span.
      3. I don’t know about that.

      The 271W combined with 271E is more of a way to get more coverage with fewer hours than a viable trip from Issaquah to the U-District. As I replied elsewhere to asdf2, it’s already 40 minutes between Issaquah and Bellevue.

      1. The weekend schedule already has the 271 sit at Bellevue Transit Center for up to 10 minutes, before continuing onward, in both directions. Often, they even do driver changes there. For all practical purposes, UW->Bellevue TC and Bellevue TC->Issaquah function as separate routes, they’re just branded as one route, and passengers have the option to sit through the layover without getting off the bus.

        Even Bellevue->Issaquah, the 40 minutes is ridiculously long. The problem is that, when the 555/556 aren’t running, there really isn’t any better option, short of driving, largely because the 554 is infrequent enough that trying to catch it at Eastgate or Issaquah from another infrequent bus, simply means that whatever you save in travel time, you just pay right back in wait time.

    2. The 271 is really a bad route. One of its many flaws is that it doesn’t serve a freeway station. That means it can’t be leveraged as a way to get to the U-District. That, in turn, has lead to this proposal, which will force many riders in the area into a very time consuming (often three seat) ride to downtown Seattle.

      I would treat this as a coverage route, and dramatically cut the frequency. I would send it over to 92nd (via 28th or 24th) and end it where the 246 ends. Then, in its place, I would run a frequent bus from the U-District to downtown Bellevue, via Bellevue Way. This would become *the way* to get to the U-District from the East Side (at least in the middle of the day). That means the 255 goes back to going downtown. It means you kill the 542, and put that service into making this new Bellevue to UW bus more frequent. It means that folks in Bellevue have a more frequent way to get from Bellevue to the UW. My guess is it would also be faster, while picking up more people. Other riders have to transfer to get to the UW from the East Side. But the overwhelming majority of people are trying to get downtown, even in the middle of the day. When push comes to shove, it makes way more sense to make the less common riders make a transfer, rather than the more common riders. This transfer is also a lot better, because it is same stop transfer (e. g. Evergreen Point Station) which means it avoids 6-8 minutes of walking. This downtown Bellevue to UW bus could be as frequent as Link during the middle of the day (every 10 minutes).

      But all of this would be for non-peak service. During peak, it makes way more sense to send *every bus* to the UW, for reasons mentioned above.

  14. The best time to send a bus to the Husky Stadium Station is at rush hour, because at that time:

    1) Link runs often (every six minutes).
    2) The freeway is often crowded (especially beyond Montlake).
    3) The Montlake Bridge is always closed.
    4) Downtown is very crowded. This is the maximum period of the “period of maximum constraint”. Not noon. Not nine o’clock at night — but rush hour.

    This is the only the time when a transfer rider has a fighting chance of beating an express bus. It is also the only time when we don’t want buses downtown. At noon, having all of these buses converge onto Third Avenue is a good thing. It means no waiting if you are trying to hop on a bus and get from one end of downtown to the other (something that will become a lot easier and faster soon). But at rush hour there are just too many buses. The buses make other buses slow. You haven’t gained anything in terms of headways, while losing a lot in terms of speed. We should, whenever possible, find ways to avoid sending buses downtown *during rush hour*. This is why I find this part of the proposal so bad:

    Existing freeway peak expresses to Downtown Seattle would not change, so most people still have their rush hour one-seat rides into downtown Seattle.

    That is nuts. That is just a really bad idea, and ignores the particulars of our system. I’m not opposed to express overlays. But in this case, it makes no sense. You build in express overlays when it saves a lot of time for the riders over a bus or train that makes a lot of stops. There are express buses from Queens to Manhattan because the subway stops a lot between Queens and Manhattan and because there is a very robust transit network in Queens and Manhattan. In this case, though, the subway makes only one stop between the UW and downtown, while the transit network is wanting (to say the least). There are several things that could be done with the savings made by truncating the express buses at UW Station:

    1) Build better “reverse direction” rush hour service. Right now, it takes well over an hour to get from a bus stop in Totem Lake to downtown (https://goo.gl/maps/yWrNgpbAE692). This is at a bus stop right over the freeway. It is worse for anyone who actually lives in the area and has to walk, or make a transfer. The bus simply takes too long to get from Totem Lake to 520. Someone headed to Seattle — anywhere in Seattle — would be better off driving.

    2) Build better all day service to Seattle. The new 255 is meant to provide this, but it falls short. It runs every fifteen minutes, which is barely enough. Making matters worse, there is very little in the way of connecting service, outside of Totem Lake. This means getting to Kirkland from other places in Kirkland isn’t bad (although indirect) but that getting to Seattle from places like Totem Lake is terrible. The 255 stops at Evergreen Point every fifteen minutes, but there are very few buses that actually serve it. You have Overlake buses and that is pretty much it. So that means that someone in the greater Totem Lake area headed to Seattle has to get over to Overlake or put up with the slog through all of Kirkland. Keep in mind, this is if you live *very close to the freeway* and very close to a *transit center*, yet your options to get *anywhere* in the largest city in the area are terrible. Getting to downtown Seattle is bad — requiring a transfer of some sort — but even getting to the UW is very time consuming. The addition of an express bus in the middle of the day from Totem Lake to downtown Seattle would work well with this network.

    3) Add better frequency on the express buses to the UW. The 311 isn’t bad, but it could be better. The 268 is much worse, and with the 252/257 it depends on where you are.

    4) Add more express buses to the UW.

    Either way, though, it is strange that Metro is leaning towards leaving the express buses running at the very worst time. By my count, there are 31 buses during rush hour with the 252/257/268/311. That is a lot buses that will go downtown, when they should go to the UW.

    1. But that getting to Seattle from places like Totem Lake is terrible.”

      When the peak-hour expresses (e.g. 252/257) aren’t running, it’s already terrible, so maintaining the same level of terrible-ness after the restructure is a very low bar. I think the proposal does do this because it least makes the slow bus run every 15 minutes all day vs. every 30, and actually serve Totem Lake itself, vs. having half the buses go onto to Kingsgate P&R, a 10-15 minute walk away.

      Ultimately though, the only way to make Totem Lake->Seattle time-competitive with driving is to run the expresses down I-405/520. They don’t necessarily have to run all the way downtown – they can go to the UW too – but they do need to get on the freeway at Totem Lake and stay on, all the way across the 520 bridge. Of course, the cost-per-rider to actually do this may not pan out, outside of rush hour.

      1. Ultimately though, the only way to make Totem Lake->Seattle time-competitive with driving is to run the expresses down I-405/520. They don’t necessarily have to run all the way downtown – they can go to the UW too – but they do need to get on the freeway at Totem Lake and stay on, all the way across the 520 bridge.

        Yes, absolutely. That is what the express buses do (the 252/257). But they shouldn’t go downtown at rush hour, but to the UW. Then the savings can be used to extend service into the evening. Buses should run towards Totem Lake later, so that folks can have dinner downtown, or just hang out a little later. Run it until around 8:00, which is also the point at which the 255 route through Kirkland is relatively fast.

        I would also run “reverse commutes”. My guess is these buses are dead heading right now, which means running “reverse commute” type buses would not be that expensive. This would be great for folks who work at the hospital or the mall and also for those who live in the neighborhood. It means that if you want to visit your friend in Seattle in the evening, you can take transit. Worse case scenario, you have to take the 255 back, but by then the buses are running much faster.

      2. After 7PM every other or every third 255 could be a “reverse express”. It could run up 405 to the end of the line directly and then do the “inbound” run to Seattle following the regular route. This provides alternating quick service to those in North Kirkland. This would provide express service to North Kirkland after hours. The buses that follow the existing 255 route could be composed of drivers going off shift and headed to east base anyways.

        Really after 7PM it is pushing an hour and a half to get home on the 255 if you are north of Kingsgate, even with good traffic. Many times I take the 550 to Bellevue and catch the 532/535 up 405 cause it’s quicker.

  15. More metro logic m. We can’t run the 255 efficiently so we will strangle it. As a person with2disability, not looking forward to the new transfer each direction at UW station. Without major improvements to get from the train to255 and back. If they don’t upgrade that mess this will be a fiasco. Metro…let them take LINK!!

    1. Talk to the City of Seattle. I’m sure Metro would love protected bus lanes along the length of the 255, but Seattle won’t give it to them – in fact, they’re removing the bus tunnel next year.

      So what can Metro do to run it efficiently?

  16. OK, this is weird. The folks who made the map have 271 serving Evergreen Point Station. The 271 is the only bus on 520 that *doesn’t* serve the station. I think it would be great if it did, but that would require the bus route to change. Is this just a mistake made by the map makers? A Freudian Slip, perhaps?

  17. OK, this is a long note, and my apologies for that, as well as the fact that I will repeat many of the ideas and arguments I made up above. But the more I look into this, the more I am disappointed with the way this connects the north Eastside with Seattle. To be clear, I have no problem with the changes within the north Eastside, it is just the connection between that area and Seattle that need a lot of work. Instead of this proposal, I would do this:

    *** Rush Hour ***

    1) Send all buses to the UW during rush hour, both directions. This is when the service hour savings are their greatest, and when the transfer penalty is the smallest.

    2) Run the express buses to the UW later into the evening and more often (some run only every half hour).

    3) Run “reverse commute” buses to the UW. For example, a 252/257 type bus would provide service to the hospital as well as the mall. It would also provide much faster service from folks who live in the area to Seattle in the evening. Since many of the existing buses are deadheading, this would not be that expensive (especially if it only made a handful of stops).

    4) Run more buses to the UW during rush hour. For example, run a bus from Lake Washington Boulevard/Lakeview Drive to the UW. That means that instead of transferring at South Lake Kirkland Park and Ride to get to downtown Seattle (as they do today), during rush hour they would transfer at the UW. For those headed to the UW, it would mean a one seat ride, instead of a three seat ride. For folks headed downtown, it is probably faster.

    *** All Day ***

    5) Breakup and replace the 271. As mentioned above, the 271 is basically two buses. One piece connects the UW to Bellevue, while the other goes between Bellevue and Issaquah. Conceptually, the two buses should be split. I have no idea what to do about the Bellevue to Issaquah section. But the other piece needs to serve the freeway stations. That means creating a new bus that runs between the U-District and downtown Bellevue via Bellevue Way*. I’ll call this new bus the 270. The new 270 should be a lot more frequent (all day 10 minutes, maybe even 8). That would mean a new connection between the UW and downtown Bellevue that is likely faster, goes by more people, and is a lot more frequent. But more importantly, it connects much better with other buses. Buses to downtown connect at the same freeway stop, and this also connects to the new 250 (making a trip from the west side of Kirkland to the UW a lot easier).

    Service on 84th should be handled by a low frequency coverage bus that ends at a freeway station, like the 246.

    5) Kill the 542 outside of rush hour. Outside of rush hour, this means folks would have to take the 545 and transfer to the new 270 to get to the U-District. Service would be put into both buses, making that transfer painless. Yes, this is unfortunate, but ridership in the middle of the day from Overlake to the UW is poor.

    6) Continue to run expresses downtown (outside of rush hour) as we have before.

    Make other changes as suggested by this proposal, with the following exceptions:

    7) As implied elsewhere in this comment, split the revised 255 into two routes. A new 256 goes to the UW, while the old 255 goes downtown. The 256 runs during rush hour, the 255 does not. Both follow the new routing north of Kirkland Way.

    Similarly, split the 545 into the 545 and 546.

    8) Have the 544 skip South Kirkland. This would be the only bus going downtown during rush hour, and it would serve only South Lake Union (apparently — it isn’t clear to me where exactly it will go). As such, there is value for folks who don’t want to transfer at the UW, but would rather transfer at a freeway station. I’m not sold on this bus (in any form). But if this serves both Belltown and South Lake Union, then it would be easier for a fair number of riders (otherwise those riders are looking at a fair amount of walking or a three seat ride).

    That’s about it.

    * The new 270 bus I propose (an express from the U-District to downtown Bellevue) could also follow the 555, 556 routing (https://www.soundtransit.org/schedules/st-express-bus/555/map).

    1. Back of the envelope, I don’t think your idea is possible without a substantial introduction of new service hours. In practice, if Metro were to try it, it feels nearly inevitable that the 10-minute frequency would end up being weekday/daytime only, 30 minutes at other times. Which means, evening and weekends, the forced transfer at Yarrow Point is going to *really* *really* stink.

      While more people are heading downtown, it is generally much less painful for the downtown people to transfer than for the UW people to transfer. If the downtown people transfer, they at least get a quick and reliable path into, through, and out of downtown to compensate for the transfer overhead (which is not that much, since the bus stops right at the station entrance, and the train runs every 10 minutes). Plus, much better frequency on the Kirkland bus.

      By contrast, of the buses go downtown, and you force the U-district people to make a transfer, there may be fewer people doing it, but it becomes a lot more painful. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that U-District to eastside bus exists (either the 542 or your proposed 270 to transfer to). It may run every 10-15 minutes during the daytime, but without a massive infusion of new service hours, there is no way it’s running every 10-15 minutes during the evening, and on weekends. So, instead of waiting at Yarrow Point for 5 minutes, you’re now stuck there for 15, 20, maybe even 25 minutes. There is a huge difference between transferring between routes that run every 10-15 minutes vs. routes that run every 30 minutes.

      Now, let’s consider safety. The UW Station, and the bus stops next to the station are much safer places to transfer after dark than Yarrow/Evergreen Point freeway stations. At UW Station, you are in full view of everyone passing through the area, and with all the transfers from NE Seattle buses, plus private car pick-up/drop-off, there’s going to be lots of people around, all evening, until the train stops running. This is an addition to being within full view of every driver passing through on Montlake Blvd. (at the bus stops), or the Sound Transit security guards (at the train platform). Compare to a forced transfer at Yarrow Point/Evergreen Point freeway stations. Now, the people there include *only* those headed from the U-district to eastside stations, which lack a direct bus – a much smaller number. Assuming each rider is equally likely to choose Yarrow Point vs. Evergreen Point to make the transfer, you can halve that to get the number of riders at any given station. You are in no view of any passing drivers or security staff, plus there’s only one way out, which presents a real problem if a creepy person manages to get between you and the stairs. (And, even if you do take the stairs up, there’s no bus connections there, so the only way out is to go back down to the bus stop, or call an Uber). And, on top of this, the wait times are going to be much longer because, without a route truncation, there’s no money to run frequent bus service there which actually remains frequent outside of the weekday daytime hours. And, wait times for the bus that’s coming from downtown will be unpredictable. I used to live in Redmond, and would sometimes catch the 545 at Montlake Freeway station at 9-10 PM. Even at that hour, buses were quite often late as much as 10 minutes, but would sometimes come early, too, so you really had no idea when anything was going to show up.

      Overall, your proposal feels like a lot of pain for U-district-bound riders, in order to provide a comparably small benefit for downtown riders (which is compensated for by worse frequency). In balance, a transfer at UW Station is the best overall, since it keeps the transfers to high-frequency services, at high-volume, highly visible locations, while allowing the bus to run at the maximum possible frequency. Direct to downtown means no transfer for downtown riders, but it comes at the cost of a far worse transfer for non-downtown riders, plus worse frequency and worse reliability, all around – even for those just riding from DT Kirkland to Totem Lake, not even going downtown.

      1. I would like to see the back of your envelope. Here is mine:

        The 271 is a very long, time consuming bus route. At around noon, it takes an hour and 15 minutes to get from Issaquah to the U-District. Making matters more complicated, there is a second version, which only goes from Eastgate to the U-District. It takes 50 minutes. So, a bit over an hour to complete an average run.

        It is tougher to measure the bus I have in mind, since it doesn’t exist. But the 556 gets from the U-District (15th and 45th) to Bellevue Transit center in 24 minutes. That is well over twice as fast. That means double the frequency without any trouble.

        The 271 runs often — about every fifteen minutes during the day, and more often than that during rush hour. It doesn’t run late at night, but ends around 9:00 eastbound, and 10:00 westbound. You don’t need to bump the frequency during rush hour — it is plenty frequent then. The savings (the doubling of runs) go into extending service into the night. There are about a dozen runs that are frequent enough (around 8 minutes or so) which means about a dozen more runs at night. In the daytime, you simply double the frequency, from 15 minutes to 8 minutes. That means somewhere around 8 minute headways all day, then slowly transitioning to 15 minute service late at night.

        I also killed the 542. That service can be used to backfill the loss of the 271. Specifically, you have the part of Bellevue without any bus coverage. The 542 takes about 38 minutes to complete a midday run, while the coverage run would be about half that. Since the 542 runs every half hour, that would mean 15 minute service then. That is overkill. I would run the coverage route every half hour, just like the 246. Oh wait, it runs every hour. Whatever. I could still give them half hour service (for old times sake) and provide plenty of extra service to patch up the minor hole on the more eastern end of the 271, much of which is covered just fine by buses like the 240 and 245.

        There are obvious winners and losers here. But overall, the system is stronger. A trip to the UW is much better. Those that ride the most popular route to the UW (the 271) have a much faster, more frequent bus. Others can make an easy transfer to a bus that that runs *more frequently than Link*, and does not require an arduous, time consuming trek to the platform. Overall, it just better than what exists now in terms of getting to the UW, and better than what is proposed.

        Right now, most of the folks headed to the U-District have to transfer from the Montlake Station, or walk a long ways. There are some who ride directly, either from Bellevue or from Renton. Those from Bellevue will have a faster, more frequent ride, while the folks in Redmond are simply out of luck. But they didn’t have it that good to begin with. Their bus only ran every half hour, so starting with the 545 (which runs every 15 minutes) and transferring to a bus that runs every 8 minutes is actually an improvement. Those in Kirkland are better off. People who take the 255 lose their Montlake stop, but get a frequent and easy transfer to the heart of the university. Those who took the 234/235 can now transfer to catch the 271 on Northrup. That is a more frequent transfer than the one they take today (to the 255) which at best gets them to the Montlake stop. Overall, this is clearly better for people who never used the Montlake Station, and probably a time saver for those that did. At the same time, direct service to downtown in the middle of the day is unchanged (or just a tiny bit better, since the bus will skip the Montlake Station). Whether you are headed to the U-District or downtown, this just seems better than what we have today.

        Now compare to the proposed change. It really isn’t that great for those headed to the UW in the middle of the day, and clearly worse for those headed downtown. Those same 234/235 riders have a two seat transfer to the UW, and a three seat ride to downtown. Neither the 255 or Link will run that frequently. Folks in Bellevue aren’t better off than they are today and neither are folks in Redmond. The only people who come out ahead versus my plan are the folks who ride the 255 who happen to be headed to the UW. That is clearly a smaller group than those from Bellevue headed to the UW, and clearly outnumbered by those who would just prefer the 255 run as it does now. Whether you are headed to the UW or to downtown, it just isn’t as good. I really don’t see anyone coming out way ahead — I see an agency desperately trying to retain service to the UW, while trying to upset the fewest number of existing riders. They don’t want to mess with the 271, even though it is clearly flawed, and clearly the key to this whole situation.

        Put it this way, I can see thousands of people who would get really excited with my proposed changes. Folks in Bellevue, as well as folks in Kirkland headed to the UW. But who is going to be excited about this change? Other than the changes within the Eastside (which I support) I think very few riders will prefer this, and they will be outnumbered by those that hate it.

      2. So, on weekdays half the route 271 trips already end at Eastgate – it’s only weekends when every trip goes all the way to Issaquah. Assuming that the Issaquah tail still needs some service on weekdays, and that the Bellevue TC->Eastgate segment can’t be reduced from current level of service (any day of week), there’s not a lot of service hours that can be redistributed.

        My previous reply missed the fact that you were proposing to get rid of the 542 (which is, I guess, how you pay for it all), but getting rid of the 542 feels like a huge step backwards.

        The 271 definitely has its problems, but I don’t think we need such a radical re-thinking of the route. Instead, I would mostly leave the weekday schedule of the 271 as is, and re-jigger the weekend schedule with the goal of 15-minute service between Bellevue TC and the U-district, 30-minute service between Bellevue TC and Eastgate, and no service between Eastgate and Issaquah. To make the new schedule easier to understand, I would re-brand the three sections as three distinct routes, and show some of them connecting together at various times of day. Metro already follows this pattern by joining numerous route pairs together in downtown Seattle.

        I also still feel like, as far as comparing various transfer scenarios, that you are placing too much emphasis on number of steps vs. wait time/reliability. With Metro’s proposal, you already know within a minute or so when the train is going to arrive at Westlake Station and UW Station, and, when buses leave the tunnel, it’s going to get even more precise. This means you can leave Westlake station at 9:03, arrive at UW Station at 9:09, and, with a little hustle, you can easily make it to the bus stop in time to catch the 9:15 departure *every* *single* *time*. Because Link is always on-time, it is not necessary to leave 10 minutes earlier, just to spend 10 more minutes sitting at the bus stop. Need more time to go up the escalators? Leave downtown 10 minutes later, catch the bus leaving Montlake 15 minutes later. Again, your trip is reliable and, you know that every single time, you can catch the 9:13 train out of Westlake and comfortable stroll to your bus stop and have no more than about 5 minutes of waiting, once you get there.

        Contrast this with bus->bus transfer for U-district to Kirkland under your proposal. In this case, choosing a trip that allows a 2-minute connection window would be crazy, as the slightest delay (e.g. bridge opening), you miss the bus, and are stuck at Yarrow Point for 30 minutes waiting for the next one. So, you have to leave 10 minutes earlier and allow yourself 12 minutes of standing at the bus stop, in order to be safe. And, if the 255 is 8 minutes late getting out of downtown (easily possible if there’s any kind of event downtown), now, you’re stuck at the bus stop for 20 minutes, and this isn’t even missing the bus – this is just a routine trip.

        These are the kinds of transfers that everybody is afraid of, which leaves them to insist on one-seat rides. Yes, you don’t have to walk. But, what good is that if you’re stuck standing at bus stop longer than a half mile’s walk, anyway? The Yarrow Point/Evergreen Point transfer stations are great during rush-hour, but when frequency dies down on evenings and weekends, forced transfers there just don’t work.

        In the long term, while the downtown transfers will always be a very important component of the ridership, it’s not going to be the overwhelming portion, outside of special downtown events, such as Seahawks games. Today, and unknown percentage of the downtown ridership is people passing through downtown to get to other parts of the city, not because they want to, but because our transit system requires them to. In the future, many of these people will end up catching a cross-town bus from the U-district, or just riding Link to there ultimate destination, bypassing downtown altogether. For example, airport passengers can just get on Link at the UW Station and ride it all the way through – no extra “downtown” connection required. Come 2021, Northgate passengers will save a ton of time riding Link north vs. detouring downtown and catching the 41. Come 2023, the UW->Westlake frequency on Link is going to double to every 5 minutes, all day long, instead of every 10, making the case for a transfer even stronger. We have demonstrated with the NE Seattle restructure that people will switch between buses and Link in exchange for more frequent service, and the eastside routes will stop much closer to the station than the NE Seattle routes will. Just, do it!

      3. So, on weekdays half the route 271 trips already end at Eastgate – it’s only weekends when every trip goes all the way to Issaquah.

        I covered that! Seriously, I stated it very clearly. Half the runs take 70 minutes, half the runs take 50 minutes. And that is being generous. Here, let me copy the schedule: One bus: 12:15 to 1:30 PM. Next bus: 12:55 to 1:45 PM. I gave the route an average of 60 minutes, which is actually less than what it actually is.

        You don’t seem to get it. The 271 runs often and it takes forever to complete its run. Yet despite service that is the envy of just about every bus in the region, it doesn’t
        connect to anything. To get from Kirkland to this bus requires going all the way to downtown Bellevue. Not Northup. Not a freeway station. But all the way to downtown Bellevue (on a route that involves several turns, I might add). Not only does the 271 miss every possible opportunity to connect to other buses, but it takes forever to complete its run. Just the segment from downtown Bellevue to the freeway is ridiculous — somehow it manages to go well out of its way to cover an area less densely populated than Fife! But the other end is what soaks up the time, whether it extends past Eastlake or not.

        Every time I do the math you keep moving the goal posts. You want me to analyze weekend service now? Give me a break. Alright fine. The bus does indeed go to Issaquah on every run. That still takes 70 minutes. Wait, no, according to the schedule, it takes 80 minutes. Let’s split the difference, and say 75. It runs every half hour. The new bus I have in mind takes 25 minutes, which means it runs three times as fast. That means it runs every ten minutes. That means someone from Kirkland, on the new 250 or the old 255, can connect to a bus that runs every 10 minutes if they want to get to the UW. That is direct half hour service to downtown (with connecting service to those buses every half hour) along with 10 minute service to the UW (with connecting service to that bus every half hour).

        Is that great? Of course not. But it is a hell of lot better than this proposal. Under this proposal, weekend service still sucks. Link is infrequent, the buses are infrequent, and unless you are lucky enough to be on one particular bus line, you are just out of luck. Take the west side of Kirkland — which probably contains the bulk of Kirkland. Under this scheme, to get downtown, they ride a bus that runs every 30 minutes (the new 250). Then they transfer to a bus that runs every 15 (yippee) followed by a train ride that runs every ten minutes, at best. That is 55 minutes of potential waiting, or basically a direct bus that runs every hour. Except at least with a bus that runs every hour you can time it.

        Oh wait, there is a train involved. Sorry, but that changes nothing. Link is not the problem! No one is worried whether Link will be late. They are worried about whether their bus to or from the UW will be late. All it takes is one sailboat, and the bus is late. That means that even if you timed things perfectly, and that bus happened to leave the UW right after you boarded, that bus will be delayed. That means that second connection (the one that actually gets you close to home) is doomed. You can’t possibly time that. That run, like the other bus, is random.

        That is true with my proposal as well. Getting from the UW to west Kirkland could be delayed just as much. But not only do you run more buses, it won’t matter to the vast majority of riders. Because the vast majority of riders are headed to downtown Seattle! Their transfer actually can be timed. Their transfer does not rely on whether it is nice day out, and everyone wants to go sailing, but whether there is an unusual amount of traffic in Kirkland.

        Your proposal is no better for getting to the UW. In fact, it is worse for most riders. But more importantly, it is much worse for those headed downtown, and those riders vastly outnumber the riders headed to the UW.

        All because Metro doesn’t want to mess with the 271. They consider it outside of this discussion, even though it contains the biggest gold mine in service hours in the region, ready to be leveraged for the greater good. It would mean folks that live here: https://goo.gl/maps/jiLyZ2mpZHx will have to wait longer for a bus (Oh no! How will golfers get to the course?). But overall, it would be a much better system, every day of the week.

    1. He is just repeating the information that Metro put out (https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/programs-projects/routes-and-service/~/media/depts/transportation/metro/programs-projects/north-eastside-mobility/kcmetro-route-255.ashx). I agree, though, I think it is misleading. Metro states that “Peak periods are 5-9 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. on weekdays”. So yes, technically you have some gaps in there, but only very early in the morning. Even then the range is:

      6-20 minutes — Westbound morning
      10-16 minutes — Westbound evening
      10-26 minutes — Eastbound morning
      7-12 minutes — Eastbound morning

      So the idea that peak service ranges from “8-30” minutes seems very misleading. It is only very early in the morning that you get close to 30 minutes. All it would take is the addition of a couple bus routes, and you could get that down to 15, which is basically all they are claiming. Most of the time it is 10 minutes or better. The big improvement is for service at night, and on the weekends. That part makes sense.

    2. Eddiew, the max peak headways are from the Metro information sheet I link to. I agree that some headways are lower, but if you think my information is inaccurate you should take it up with metro

  18. Metro’s website and survey are biased in favor of this restructure. Many of the survey question are general questions or asking respondents to weigh several factors that are part of the restructure – like it is a foregone conclusion. They do not clearly

    It is also not at all clear why the 255 truncation at UW needs to be considered mixed with all the other Eastside changes – the 255 could continue to serve downtown and terminate at Totem Lake – and all the rest of the Eastside changes could still be made. But that option is not given.

    And the website downplays the time cost of the transfer, especially off peak and doesn’t even mention Husky stadium events, bridge openings, etc. all of which will make the service less reliable and more complicated than the existing routing.

    1. If the 255 continues downtown, there are no spare service hours to make any of the other improvements, or even to provide the frequency on the 255 that is possible with the UW routing.

      1. The promise is that 255 hours improve 255 frequency, so the other changes can be considered independently
        A whole lot of the spare service hours are imaginary any way because there is not a good place to provide layover space and bathroom facilities. If the 255 were to live loop, maybe there would be material savings (at the expense of reliabilty) but I think it is being sent north of NE 45th St to a layover, so the service hour savings are elusive and rather small.
        But the more damning thing…. this will kill evening and weekend ridership because it’s going to be a crappy experience compared to today. At the first inkling of an economic downturn the frequency improvements will disappear and never come back.

      2. “A whole lot of the spare service hours are imaginary any way because there is not a good place to provide layover space and bathroom facilities.”

        Sure, there is. Off-peak, there is plenty of room along Campus Parkway, and Memorial Way inside the UW, for additional buses.

        “But the more damning thing…. this will kill evening and weekend ridership because it’s going to be a crappy experience compared to today.” A bus that runs once an hour after 7 PM is a pretty crappy experience *today*. An upgrade to every 15 minutes is a huge improvement, even with the transfer. You also make back some of the transfer time by getting through, into, and out of downtown quickly. The 6 minutes it takes Link to get all the way from Westlake Station to UW Station is barely enough time for the 545 to crawl 3 blocks from 4th/Pine to 8th/Olive.

        But, there is another element to consider: NOT EVERYBODY IS GOING DOWNTOWN!!! Doing nothing, means forcing people headed to the UW area (and all the buses that connect there) to either transfer between two 30-minute, not-super-reliable routes at best, or detour all the way downtown, at worst. Anecdotally, when I ride a 520 bus on a weekend, I see about 1/3-1/4 of the people get on/off at Montlake Freeway station, so the number of non-downtown riders is not negligible. If nothing is done, you basically kill evening/weekend ridership for everybody not going downtown, as it imposes on them, a far more painful transfer than what Metro’s plan imposes on downtown riders.

        “At the first inkling of an economic downturn the frequency improvements will disappear and never come back.” Don’t assume that direct downtown service will magically make the service hours of the route more immune to getting reduced in a recession. If nothing is done, the likely response to the next recession is the Link truncation getting pushed through anyway – but, without the frequency improvements – as the only option to avoid draconian cuts (like Sunday service being reduced to hourly, all day long).

      3. ST’s 2019 Service Implementation Plan just came out, and when the 550 surfaces it says, “Daily Customer Impact: 10,700 (100%) Longer travel time and reduced frequency.” I want to know what the reduced frequency will be, because it’s already 30 minutes evenings and Sundays. The 255 might do the same thing if it confinues going downtown.

      4. @asdf2 — You are missing the point. Trading direct service to downtown versus service to Husky Stadium later into the evening is a reasonable trade-off. Many would prefer it, many would hate it. It should be made clear to everyone what they are losing in terms of the Montlake stop, and that part of the discussion should not be muddled with talks about congestion in downtown Seattle (which are not an issue outside of rush hour).

        Yet that isn’t the case here. To be fair, Metro mentions the loss of the Montlake Stop, but only after mentioning the loss of the tunnel. This proposal really isn’t about the tunnel. This barely tweaks at the congestion issue downtown, when it matters. Yet they imply that moving the 255 is necessary, to help with that problem.

        The all or nothing approach — which Carl is complaining about — makes things worse. There are some significant changes here, that have nothing to do with truncating the 255 to give it better late night service. Even on the 255 you see major changes that have nothing to do with the UW or downtown. Service to the tail has gone away. What if you like that change, and simply don’t care about what the 255 does once it reaches South Kirkland (because you never rode it that far)? Can you have that change, without the other? What if you really like the new 250, or the change to the 255? Are we going to abandon those changes if folks don’t like other changes? I get that changes are dependent on other improvements, but without detailed questioning, Metro can’t tweak the thing. Remember, Metro has tweaked a lot of changes in the past — it really doesn’t make sense to make an all or nothing approach if you are sincerely interested in customer feedback.

        It just seems like Metro is setting itself up for failure. Either they lose a huge chunk of UW riders (by doing nothing) or they lose a bunch of downtown riders (who don’t want to put up with the extra transfer). Other improvements — meaningful improvements — that will help increase frequency, as well coverage, may get lost in the shuffle (assuming we do nothing). All the while, they treat the 271 like it can’t be touched, even though it is the biggest waste of resources in the area.

        This just seems like a very bad process — much worse than the one that Northeast Seattle went through. I fear that we will also get the wrong message, whether we make the change or not. Ridership is likely to plummet (either way) and there will be this notion that suburban riders just hate transfers, while the real problem is that they dislike really bad transfers, like the one outside Husky Stadium.

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