Sound Transit has released its Draft 2019 Service Implementation Plan, along with a one-page summary that looks a lot more succinct and useful than the traditional executive summaries. The actual proposals for service changes are just for March 2019. Highlights and lowlights include:
Route 513 will cease serving Evergreen Way, and instead serve the new Seaway Transit Center, near Paine Field.
Route 550 will move to 2nd and 4th Avenues downtown, and take several minutes longer to cross downtown.
Route 555 will cease serving its long tail between downtown Bellevue and Issaquah. Route 556 will continue to serve this tail in the other direction. The hours saved would be invested into improved reliability for route 554.
Reverse-peak-direction service on route 580 will be eliminated, and various other runs will just go between South Hill and Puyallup Station. Saved hours will be invested in other Pierce County ST Express routes. See page 22 of the Draft SIP for the full list of cuts.
Minor changes, listed on page 24, include:
- replacing the northbound freeway station stop at 145th with a stop on 5th Ave NE, for route 512. The freeway station is being closed for Link station construction. Non-specified reliability improvements may be rolled out to mitigate the extra travel time.
- a possible additional stop on route 541 at the southeast corner of the Microsoft campus, to mitigate lack of access to Overlake Transit Center resulting from Link station construction.
- the discontinuation of the midday run of route 596 from Bonney Lake P&R to Sumner Station, due to having just 2-4 riders.
The Draft SIP is coy on whether the travel time on Link Light Rail will decrease after the buses leave the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel for good, or how long it will take to get more peak 3-car trains. The SIP merely states that “reliability” will improve, and offers a transfer to light rail as a way to get across downtown faster (which seems like a dubious plan if average wait time is 3-5 minutes, and getting between the bus stop and train takes multiple minutes, along with the time to exit the destination station, unless they really are planning to reduce cross-downtown travel time, and buses are reduced to a crawl). Siemens light rail vehicles start getting delivered sometime in 2019, and then will need a prep period before any can go into service.
More changes for September 2019 will be proposed in early 2019, with public outreach planned for after Metro makes its decisions on its northeastside restructures.
Public comments on the March 2019 service change proposals are being accepted through November 15.
The SIP also offers a treasure trove of ridership and performance data, as well as scenarios for how ST Express service might look in 2025, which will be covered in a future post.