Frequent Transit Network in Kirkland in 2024, after the North Eastside Restructure and I-405 BRT, but before RapidRide

In March 2020, Metro will implement a restructure of service in the North Eastside. Most attention will focus on the truncation of Metro 255 to connect with Link at UW station. Another key element of the improved Metro network is route 250. This new route connects downtown Bellevue to Kirkland and runs through to Redmond. It splices together the most productive parts of several current routes (234, 235, 248) for a more frequent connection serving three of the Eastside’s major downtown centers.

The route is likely to be successful. It is, however, a step away from the Long-Range Plan (LRP) Metro adopted in 2017. In developing the North Eastside restructure, Metro assessed that this routing has more value than the Rapid Ride routing assumed for 2025. Sometime this year, Metro will kick off planning this year for a 2025 RapidRide route in this market. As they do so, Metro should reflect the learning of the North Eastside process, adopting route 250 as the preferred option for service north of Bellevue, with Kirkland-Redmond service substituted for the less useful Kirkland-Totem Lake segment.

The map at top is the likely 2024 frequent network in Kirkland, i.e. before RapidRide, but with other near-term improvements. Both 255 and 245 will likely run at higher frequencies than today. The former is boosted by the service hour savings of Montlake truncation; the latter is a direct connection to rail at Overlake. I-405 BRT is operating up to every 10 minutes with stations at NE 128th and NE 85th. Metro 250 connects the entire NE 85th corridor to Kirkland and Redmond at higher frequencies, and directly connects both downtown areas to I-405 BRT.

The Metro Connects map of RapidRide route 1027 (Image: Metro)

Now overlay the LRP plan for RapidRide on this map. The 2016 plan, which predates the detailed analysis of the North Eastside Mobility Project, shows a RapidRide route from Totem Lake to Kirkland to Bellevue to Eastgate.

If Metro follows the LRP concept, the RapidRide would duplicate service along the entire length of the 255 route within Kirkland, far over-serving the Totem Lake to Downtown corridor. At the same time, it robs service hours from the 250, which would presumably be truncated to something like today’s 248. Absent the direct connection to Bellevue, service hours on NE 85th would also be cut back, hopefully not to the 35-minute headways that sustain that corridor off-peak today.

Totem Lake riders retain the frequent service of Metro 255 in any scenario. They will also have a direct connection to Bellevue of I-405 BRT.  The transit mode share in Totem Lake is just 8%. Another overlapping route from Totem Lake to Bellevue does not rank a high priority.

The RapidRide is Kirkland’s best opportunity to get more riders to the NE 85th BRT station. The station is poorly placed to serve Downtown Kirkland, so ridership is critically dependent on frequent bus service along NE 85th. RapidRide on NE 85th is well-placed to connect riders from Kirkland and Redmond to the BRT.

Meanwhile, the NE 85th corridor is itself seeing significant developer activity. The long-established strip malls and auto dealerships are beginning to give way to redevelopment. Several projects are in the pipeline, including a major 1m square foot mixed use development near the freeway and smaller projects up the hill. With a station area planning process and likely rezoning soon, the market for new development will be supported by robust transit service along NE 85th.

The 85th St Corridor in Kirkland is beginning to redevelop, including this mixed use complex east of I-405 (Image: Kirkland DRB).

Beyond Kirkland, at least two other tweaks to the route are worth examining. Between South Kirkland and Downtown Bellevue, the RapidRide is projected to mostly follow 116th Ave NE (like today’s 234/235). It may be more useful to instead serve the developing activity center, and light rail station, at 120th Ave NE instead.

At the south end, the LRP route misses Factoria. Factoria is heavily congested much of the day, but also a major employment center that today lacks great transit connections to Bellevue. A planned RapidRide from Renton through Factoria to Eastgate and Overlake has been deferred. It’s worth considering the trade-offs in having the RapidRide get closer to Factoria by serving Richards Rd and SE 36th on the way to Eastgate.

51 Replies to “Kirkland’s RapidRide should connect to Redmond”

  1. There are some great ideas here. IMO, going down 120th instead of 116th is a no-brainer. 120th is also 5 lanes wide for a portion, which presumably could mean the bus could go faster (unlike 116th which is only 3 lanes).

      1. When talking about busses that pass near hospitals, remember that “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

      2. This is really going to screw over a bunch of health care workers. I’ll also point out that Aegis is currently building a huge senior housing project on 116th. The only development on 120th is between Spring Blvd and Bel-Red/NE12th. Those residents can literally walk out their door to either a future link connection of existing service on Bel-Red. I’ll also point out that while this is branded TOD all of the buildings have whopping big parking garages and don’t cater at all to a low income or a transit dependent crowd. There’s a reason Bellevue is widening this road. North of Spring Blvd the west side is the brand new Audi dealership, the OMF and the currently under construction BMW dealer; that’s all. I guess you’ll be able to take a bus to buy your new German luxury car.

      3. “There’s a reason Bellevue is widening this road.”

        That’s reversing cause and effect. Bellevue is widening the road and didn’t restrict parking because it made a policy decision to accommodate people driving to/from the Spring District as much as they do to downtown Bellevue, rather than making another Ballard or First Hill or something with less driving and more non-driving.

        “North of Spring Blvd the west side is the brand new Audi dealership.”

        I hope it’s multistory like the ones in SODO and the U-District.

      4. I spewed a little about the development on the west side of 120th. Of note is the east side is largely taken up by Bellevue/East Base, or in plain English… bus parking. Senior operators have told me that Metro buses are technically “in service” and should pick-up passengers when returning to base. So 120th already has tons of coverage. Moving the new 250 route off 116th makes no sense.

      5. In the 2025 timeframe we’re talking about, there will be several thousand jobs centered around Spring and 120th/124th. Yes, they’ll have East Link, but it’s not nuts to think they also should have more formalized bus service north/south than hopping a ride on an out of service bus going to/from the base.

      6. The point is the distance from 12th to Spring Blvd is probably less than from the west end of Bellevue Transit Center to the DT Link station. The apartment block has transit running on both sides. They can walk out their door and be connected to transit. The only thing routing the 250 on 120th does is provide them with a 1 seat ride to Kirkland. And that comes at the expense of denying service to everyone on 116th; which includes Childrens medical and a new senior living center plus a slew of doctors offices along the Medical Mile. And all of it has much more up zone potential than the ST OMF or Bellevue/East Base.

  2. One priority that I think is somewhat important to consider is that by truncating the 255 at UW, that forces riders of routes in Kirkland that are not the 255 (e.g., 234, 235, 236, 238) into a 3-seat ride into Seattle, which highly discourages transit use.

    So I think it’s worthwhile to put some of the savings from the truncated 255 into more routes terminating at places with direct Seattle service, like Bellevue Transit Center, or the 520 freeway stations.

    1. The parts of Kirkland that are not on the 255 is either low-density single family homes or very expensive luxury waterfront condos. Almost nobody rides the bus there, anyway, and those that want to ride the bus can still drive to the 255 at South Kirkland P&R.

      If anything, I think we’re spending too much money on coverage, and not enough connecting the eastside’s activity nodes with as high a frequency as possible. A one seat ride from Brickyard P&R to Seattle is pointless anyway because nobody is putting up with the hour-long slog that one-seat ride takes.

      It’s also worth noting that the connection to Link really is quick and easy, once the bus goes directly to the station. I tried it out yesterday, taking an Uber along the future 255 route, from DT Kirkland to UW Station. Just 10 minutes after crossing Evergreen Point, I was already on the train. And, with all the traffic disruptions downtown caused by the fun run, switching over to Link turned out to be a very good decision.

      1. ” A one seat ride from Brickyard P&R to Seattle is pointless anyway because nobody is putting up with the hour-long slog that one-seat ride takes.”

        Seriously? You’ve obviously never been on the 257 or 311. Both are generally packed. A ton of people take the bus from the Totem Lake/Brickyard area and many of them do go to Seattle. The only issues with those buses is that they’re peak only. The only friends I know who have moved away from that area are those that need to work odd hours and were willing to pay to live closer.

      2. I don’t have any problem with peak hour buses from Brickyard to Seattle that are fast enough to be worth riding (although these should probably go to UW station too, to avoid traffic congestion downtown). The issue is when the 257 and 311 aren’t running. For all day purposes, feeling good because Brickyard has an hour+ one seat ride to Seattle is a waste of time. Nobody rides the 255 all that way, and the transfer of Link to I405 BRT will probably be considerably faster, anyway.

      3. Yeah, the 257/252/311 are really nice when they are running. They are even time competitive with driving (or even faster than driving if you consider free use of the express toll lanes and HOV lanes, and the fact that from Kirkland it’s non-stop to Seattle except at the 520 freeway stations, which takes very little time).

        I would imagine people riding the 255 all the way consists mostly of people who don’t have a car, or people new to transit who park at Brickyard or Kingsgate and take the 255 without thinking about how long the route actually takes.

      4. I’m not really getting the comment that no one will ride an hour on the bus. An hour is better than many people’s commute.

        I’m a little suspicious of all these UW truncations coming off of 520. Won’t it will take about as long to cross the montlake bridge as to just continue into Seattle? Montlake has terrible traffic during rush hour.

      5. I think asdf2 is referring to the 255 going all the way to Brickyard P&R. The question is whether the one seat ride is worth it. Personally, I think with 405 BRT and Link, it won’t be. It’ll probably be faster and more reliable to get from Brickyard to Seattle via Bellevue. On the other hand, continuing local service (e.g., 238) is, I think, a good idea for those who live further away from the P&Rs.

      6. While I don’t do it personally, I have family that parks at Brickyard, then takes the 311 into downtown. They use Brickyard because Kingsgate is much busier than Brickyard and there’s an all-day connection just in case they need to leave Seattle early (about once a month). While the 255 is slow, it’s there so they use it. If downtown to Brickyard becomes a three-seat ride during non-peak hours, it detracts from the value of parking and sitting (or standing) on a bus exposed to the elements. My family has said they’re planning on switching to driving once the 255 stops going to downtown since they no longer have that safety net of returning to Brickyard once the 255 is truncated at UW and Totem Lake.

        Ideally, rather than make Brickyard a one-seat ride during rush hour, then three-seats at all other times, I’d make it two-seats at all times. Truncate the 255 at Totem Lake, but send it downtown during non-peak hours only. During peak hours, send all the express buses to the UW rather than have them clog downtown’s streets. A two-seat ride is much easier to swallow than a three-seat ride. Plus, the benefit to switching to Link is greatest during rush hour. There’s little benefit to switching during midday and over the weekend, especially since the transfer situation at UW is horrible.

      7. The safety net argument is real, especially during the interim years when I-405 BRT isn’t running yet. However, consider the following:

        – If the 252/257/311 are also truncated to UW Station, that would free up service hours to run more trips on these routes. So, maybe, instead of running only from 3 PM-7 PM, it can be extended to run from 1 PM-9 PM. If so, that would be a much more useful safety net than an hour-long milk run. Plus, rush hour commuters would probably end up getting downtown faster most days, by not having to fight traffic on I-5 and Stewart St.
        – Even if the above were beyond Metro’s political ability, you can always drive to another park and ride with better all-day bus service.
        – Absolute worst case, Uber and Lyft provide a safety net, even if Metro doesn’t. As of the time I’m writing this, a ride from Kirkland Transit Center to Brickyard P&R runs at around $15. Driving downtown would cost at least that much, if not more, just on parking, not even including the cost of gas and bridge tolls. It makes zero financial sense to spend $25/day on gas/parking/bridge tolls to avoid a $15 Uber ride once per month.
        – The existing 255 has pretty terrible ridership past Totem Lake. Spending money to run that bus all the way to brickyard takes away service hours that could be used to make the more well-used DT Kirkland->Seattle segment more frequent.
        – On weekends, every 255 trip currently goes all the way to Brickyard, even though South Kirkland P&R has tons of empty parking. Judging by the ridership stats, most people who live in the Kingsgate area and want a bus to downtown on a weekend are already driving to South Kirkland P&R anyway, since the bus ride all the way to Kingsgate is just too long.
        – Not everybody going to Seattle is going downtown. While, during the off-peak hours, truncating vs. the total travel time to get downtown is virtually the same, truncating provides a huge amount of time savings for those headed to the U-district, or, for that matter, anywhere in north Seattle that’s an easier bus ride from UW Station than from downtown. Remember, Montlake Freeway Station is closing, and detouring downtown to catch a bus would add a ton of extra time, which would push myself, and probably others, into riding Uber or Lyft home instead.

      8. The idea that the 255 should be truncated at the Kingsgate P&R only makes sense if you have never used the route in that area. While it is true that very few people get on the route at Brickyard, the residential stops along 124th NE are probably the busiest stops on the route outside of major transit centers. This is the reason that the 252 and 257 also serve roughly the same area.

        It would only make sense to truncate these routes if you think that buses should only serve P&Rs and transit centers, which is a stupid thought in terms of letting people live carless lives.

  3. I recently moved a within a couple blocks of Kirkland Transit Center, so I’ve familiar with the area. I definitely concur with your approach. More frequency connecting Kirkland to Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond is definitely good. Duplicate route between DT Kirkland and Totem Lake, bad.

    Factoria is a tricky one; the current world where Factoria is mostly connected to Eastgate and just barely connected to South Bellevue is going to look very outdated when South Bellevue has a Link Station and Eastgate just as buses to Link stations.

    I’m imagining a solution that might look something like this:
    – route 240 – split into two routes at Eastgate. North half connects Eastgate to DT Bellevue and becomes part of the future RapidRide. South half connects South Bellevue Station to Factoria, then follows the current route 240 path through Newcastle to Renton. The south half would presumably run less often than the north half.
    – 241 – Keep current route, but interline the schedule with route 240 (south) to provide frequent combined service between South Bellevue Station and Factoria Mall (maybe, each route, by itself runs every hour, with 15 minute combined service).
    – 245 – Unchanged, but move the terminal back to Factoria

    1. I agree that South Bellevue to Factoria (or Mercer Island to Factoria) bus service will be more important once East Link opens. Today, it’s not that important of a connection but that will markedly change after 2023.

      Eastside bus restructuring in general is complex because of the many ST projects becoming operational at different times — within a few years or even months of each other. Each project can shift demands.

      In such a period of change, it may be best to introduce “interim” services until the larger Metro+ST system is in place about 2025 — rather than invest of RapidRide upgrades (stops, signals, lanes) that may quickly become underutilized.

    2. While a duplicate route may be unnecessary, it feels like this article emphasizes the residential growth in places like Kirkland Urban in downtown Kirkland while pointedly ignoring the large amount of growth in Totem Lake with “The Village at Totem Lake” and at least two more mixed-use complexes already going up directly north of that construction. The city itself is expecting a significantly higher rate of growth in Totem Lake than in downtown.

      More transit will almost certainly be necessary. Whether it is served by a new route or increased service on an existing route is an open question.

      1. But to connect Totem Lake to the surrounding region, won’t 405 BRT meet most of that neighborhood’s needs? Unless I’m traveling within Kirkland, if I lived in Totem Lake pretty much all of my trips would start or end at the freeway station.

      2. “More transit will almost certainly be necessary. Whether it is served by a new route or increased service on an existing route is an open question.”

        I’d agree the service levels should grow proportionate to the increased demand. Another route on the same corridor though? I wouldn’t want the duplication. Totem Lake’s greater need is for new connections – driving service into the SE and eventually SW quadrants that don’t see a lot of current service. The North Eastside Mobility Project makes some useful steps in that direction.

  4. Kirkland’s RapidRide should run on 108th, not down by the lake where there are few people and few destinations.

    1. Another issue is traffic congestion. I think buses were moved off Lake Washington Blvd for a while because it can get as slow as a parking lot with locals going to their condos and visitors admiring the lake view.

    2. Any thoughts on connecting these routes to the Eastlink when it opens in a few years?

  5. From the Kirkland Reporter article, a good articulation of how a good transit blog has to care about land-use:
    “Weinstein said city staff has heard concerns from residents about traffic, which could be increased with new residential developments. To address this, Weinstein said the city is trying to get better transit service along Northeast 85th Street, but in order to support more bus routes, the city must increase density.”

    1. Imagine if the city had zoned the Totem Lake urban center along 85th instead of way up at 124th. Then it would have been right on RapidRide 250, between two of the three largest city centers in the Eastside, with more possibilities for an Issaquah Link extension without the CRC/108th dilemma. Bonus if a lid or something could shrink the impact of the 405/85th interchange.

  6. The top map doesn’t show East Link. It’s supposed to take 17 minutes to go from Downtown Redmond to Downtown Bellevue and another 28 minutes to get to Westlake Station or 21 to get to the IDC Station. All of this with no more than an 8 minute wait for commute hours and less than a 10 minute wait the rest of the time until 10 pm. Finally, East Link connects Bellevue, Overlake, Microsoft and Downtown Redmond — major attractions that generate trips between these destinations.

    That’s not to discount the discussion of the best BRT strategy. It is however important to mention because I think that riders will default to wanting to get to Downtown Seattle using Eastlink rather than transfer at UW Station unless they live in Kirkland or one of the small elite 520 communities. That will also shift the rider loads from what routes have today.

    I view the restructure as going from a “downtown” to a “crosstown feeder” service strategy except for Downtown Bellevue. The new resulting rider demands and loads will probably take some tweaking to get right.

    1. I don’t know. Adding it all up, Redmond to Westlake station would be 45 minutes. Maybe in rush hour, that’s good enough. But, outside of rush hour, I think the bus can do a lot better. 20 minutes to UW station, 5 minutes to switch, 6 minutes to ride downtown. You’ve still saved about 15 minutes over riding Link all the way.

      And if you’re trying to get to the UW, Northgate, or really anywhere in Seattle north of downtown, the need for the 542 gets stronger.

  7. I’ve always thought that ST should look at getting the right of way for the Cross Kirkland Corridor (the old rail line that the Dinner Train used to run on). An elevated section of light rail track could be built over the walking trails connecting Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Totem Lake, and Woodinville.

    1. Sound Transit has the rights – there’s an easement on all of the arguably useful parts of the corridor. But lots of unwelcoming neighbors, and mostly not great station areas that depress ridership.

    2. That was a big controversy in the run-up to ST3. A neighborhood group formed called “Save Our Trail” to block it. The Kirkland City Council recommended BRT but not rail on it. ST decided to punt and truncated the Issaquah-Kirkland line at the South Kirkland P&R in this phase. It then doubled down on 405 Stride because Link wouldn’t reach 85th.

      1. Though note that the OMFE to South Kirkland segment is using ERC ROW. Extending further north towards Houghton & downtown along ST’s ERC easement is still very possible post-ST3.

    3. ST “sandbagged” the ERC option between Bellevue and Renton back in 2015. Their alternative not only completely skipped Factoria, but assumed that the single track section near Newport would never be double-tracked, limiting the service to only every 20 minutes. Then, they assumed light rail technology — not only expensive but much more able to leave the alignment at Factoria if they had wanted to study that . Then, they made all service go only to Wilburton (noting that ST3 later rerouted the Issaquah light rail to run through East Main and Downtown Bellevue stations).

      Of course, there was no outcry to call out ST on this. Here, it’s not about logic for riders; it’s about other “stakeholders”!

      1. Eh. That’s because the ERC between Bellevue and Renton is inferior to 405 ROW, regardless of the mode. It’s narrow, winding, and generally follows the water, which makes it expensive, slow, and limited walkshed, respectively. If ST needs to create sufficient ROW to double track, it makes sense to follow the 405 alignment.

        Getting between downtown Bellevue and Factoria, the ERC isn’t particularly helpful as it’s more or less WSDOT ROW anyways. If the goal was to use the ERC between Bellevue & Renton AND serve Factoria, you either need to cross 405 twice or stick a station at Coal Creek, which only nominally serves the area.

      2. There is a larger point:
        1. Assume a much more expensive technology (light rail).
        2. Do no deviation (even though light rail can deviate for both Factoria and East Main through routing).
        3. Assume no use of 405 ROW at any segment (even though most future expansion uses WSDOT freeways) to enable double-tracking.

        1+2+3 = sandbagged

        Crossing 405 is a non-issue. If it was an issue, than the Issaquah to East Main segment should have tanked for track switching and crossing both 405 and 90 (the freeways are getting crossed anyway so that would be just one 405 crossing).

  8. As usual, the Eastside Rail Corridor is totally ignored, by Sound Transit and by the press. The ERC runs from Renton to Bothell and could tie the entire Eastside together with light rail. Since the corridor already exists (and even has tracks on it), it would cost only a rounding error in ST’s budget to serve the Eastside.

      1. Sure, I’m new here. But not new to noticing that the ERC is never included on any plans.

      2. If I can find some links later, I’ll toss them out here, but I’ve posted links here before, so searching this blog will get you started.

        In the meantime, you could search for various keywords.

        1992 PSRC Eastside Commuter Rail study. (I think this is only in print. I found it at the Seattle Library)

        2001 I-405 Corridor Program FEIS.

        Light Rail Now archives, search for Commuter rail, and particularly Renton mayor Jesse Tanner.

        2009 Joint PSRC/Sound Transit Eastside Commuter Rail study.

        Try Looking in the Crosscut archives?

        That’s all I can think of right now.

        I have a ton of information in my head, and in boxes (I could be featured on that “Hoarding’ show if it dealt with transportation paper)

        Problem is, you’ll get a load of snark and cynicism with it. I’ve been around it for way too long.

        By the way, your observations are correct.

    1. Yeah, it is complicated, but basically nothing is happening because all sides have essentially given up. If memory serves, this is what happened a couple years ago: Sound Transit was planning on adding projects to ST3. The only clear consensus addition for the East Side was the extension of Link to Redmond. Kirkland, meanwhile hired their own transit consultant to come up for ways to improve transit in the area. They proposed using the Cross Kirkland Corridor (which is part of the ERC) for a bus rapid transit network. The idea would not be to serve only the pathway, but use the pathway as means to connect various areas (buses would travel more popular streets for much of their route). The plan involved more than one route (unlike the I-405 BRT) but overlapping bus routes, to serve more areas (not that different than the concept behind BRISK The city council liked it, but got push back from two areas. One was locals, who live close to the pathway. Despite the plans calling for different levels for each use (pedestrians at one height, bikes another, the buses on another) and the obvious choice of using electric wire along the pathway, residents managed to stir up concern about stinky scary buses. But the main opposition came from ST leadership itself. They didn’t like the idea (they were focused more on rail). So, after some back and forth, Kirkland acquiesced, and now Kirkland will get a light rail lane from South Kirkland to Issaquah, along with a BRT line that doesn’t deviate from the freeway (at least in Kirkland). There will be no frequent, fast, direct bus service connecting the major communities on the East Side; there will be no BRISK (at least not as part of ST3 funding). Kirkland won’t get much — in my opinion the East Side in general won’t get much (other than the Link stations in Redmond). More details:

      1. I live by the Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail, walk on it almost daily, ride the bus regularly, and generally, oppose using the space as a bus corridor. Here are some reasons why:
        – I don’t want trail access to be closed for years of construction. The only detour routes that exist are busy roads with not-great sidewalks.
        – A transitway along side the trail would inevitably get fenced off for safety reasons, and effectively cut off trail access from either one side or the other.
        – The trail is a rare refuge away from the noise of cars and trucks on the road. With buses going up and down it (at least with any decent frequency), you’d lose that.
        – Making room for a two-way busway alongside the trail would require taking out a large number of trees, and the trail wouldn’t have shade anymore
        – Buses traveling along the trail would not replace the need for local service on State St. and 108th, due to the large vertical gap between the two streets and the trail. So, you’d end up with redundant service.
        – Except for rush hour, there really isn’t that much traffic on the streets
        – There’s no good way to get from the trail ROW to downtown Kirkland without sitting in traffic anyway
        – The trail ROW is not fast enough to provide an acceptable alternative for thru-service, all the way from Bellevue to Lynnwood – especially with a deviation to Kirkland Transit Center. Those buses would need to be on 405 anyway.

      2. Well said. I supported keeping the rail corridor for freight, excursion trains and possible DMU commuter service. I believe that could have co-existed with a regional trail. The ideas proposed by Eastside Rail Now! were hostilely objected to by the “pro transit” crowd. And once the tracks are removed there is no going back. The trail is already a great asset and will be a defining feature of the eastside when complete. Thank you Ron Sims.

  9. Every truncation at uw station is messed up
    by every raising of
    the bascule draw bridge over montlake cut.

    That draw bridge is a big annoyance because its raisings are random with whatever boat needs it to raise.

    Same for all draw bridges to North seattle

    1. I’m all for uw station truncation with frequent service,
      But that drawbridge is wild card

    2. I agree. That is why I think it makes sense to do the following:

      1) Have rush hour buses go to the UW Station. This is when downtown traffic is the worse, when Link is the most frequent, and when the bridges stay down.

      2) During off peak, run buses both places. Make sure that the buses that go to the UW also serve a freeway station. Right now the only all day bus that goes to the UW from SR 520 is the 271, which fails to serve a freeway station. Its route should be changed so that it can do that, which would make it easier for people to get to the UW (by transferring from a downtown express to the 271).

    3. The drawbridge doesn’t open that often. When it does, Link runs every 10 minutes, so the delay would most likely be one train – or 10 minutes.

      In the long run, I think we’ll up with a 255 from Kirkland to UW, 271 from Bellevue to UW, 542 from Redmond to UW, and Link from Bellevue and Redmond to downtown. I don’t think a 255 direct to downtown is necessary – if bus can drop people off right at the station, the transfer will be very quick – it would get people downtown just a quickly as a zero-traffic direct ride, while also providing much better service to people going to the UW – or any area served by Link north of the UW. Remember, once East Link opens, the all-day level of service is supposed to include trains every 5 minutes between UW Station and downtown. The wait time for the connection will be negligible.

      I have mixed opinions about moving the 271. In the immediate term (post Montlake Freeway Station closure, pre-truncation of route 255), it would help avoid an unreliable connection to 30-minute service. But, I’m also weary of just suddenly telling a neighborhood that’s had bus service for at least 50 years that they don’t deserve service anymore, even if not that many people there are using it. Yes, in terms of total ridership, it would probably be wash – what you’d lose in Medina, you’d gain back along Bellevue Way. But, it still messes with people’s lives to suddenly take all bus service away from someone, who has grown to expect it. Yes – you could mitigate it by running a token Medina shuttle from Bellevue Transit Center to Evergreen Point. But, a route serving Medina along wouldn’t have anywhere near the frequency or span of the present-day 271, and even if it were just weekday daytime only, every 30 minutes, it would still be sucking up valuable service hours that would be better spent on something else. The current 271 routing, for better or worse, provides Medina coverage for “free”, avoiding the need to sink service hours into a shuttle that would probably yield terrible ridership.

  10. Thoughts on connecting these routes to the East Link when it opens in a few years?

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