[UPDATE: Sound Transit says Metro did not check with them when announcing new train headways. It will remain every 6 minutes peak and 10 otherwise, with no trains turning around at Stadium. In 2023, it will be every 4 minutes peak and 5 off peak through downtown, with the South King and East King branches each getting 8 and 10.]
The Northgate Link restructure has started. Metro is studying routes 26, 31, 32, 41, 45, 62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 71, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 301, 303, 304, 308, 309, 312, 316, 330, 345, 346, 347, 348, 355, 372, and 373 for possible changes. (Not the 44, 48, 49, 70, or any routes west of Aurora.) At this point Metro wants to know what people think about the current network, and recruit people for a “Mobility Board” to review the restructure proposals starting this fall.
According to Metro’s briefing on the project, Northgate Link will open in 2021 with U-District, Roosevelt, and Northgate stations. Frequency will be every 4-6 minutes peak hours, with 4-car trains. Some trains will run Northgate-Stadium, as MLK will not exceed 10 trains per hour. Travel time from Northgate to UW will be 7 minutes. That puts Northgate-Westlake at 13 minutes and Northgate-SeaTac at 47 minutes.
There is a not a lot of meat on the project website. However, a glance at the Seattle Transit Map can provide insights on the current network. Some parts work pretty well:
- Above Northgate Way, the system conveniently already funnels people into the Transit Center.
- The 67, 45, and fellow travelers provide good connectivity to Roosevelt, U-District Station, and places in between.
- The 62 provides a straighforward connection to Link on 65th Street.
But it’s not all roses. Lake City Way buses like the 522 whiz right by Link stations without really connecting to them. With 145th St BRT coming and Northgate an attractive terminus as well, it’s not clear what happens to lower Lake City Way.
Moreover, much like mighty route 7 further south, the main north-south routes east of the 67 parallel Link for a long time before winding up in a difficult transfer environment. Any bus route that funnels into UW faces a dilemma between a direct-but-congested route on that doesn’t really serve the campus, and a slower one that goes through campus but skirts the fringes of UW station and takes a while to wind up in the U-District.
Metro’s 2025 plan for the area is a preliminary network design published in 2016. While not a fully baked proposal, it doesn’t envision wholesale changes to the overall grid. The biggest impact is in the U-District, where buses come off Stevens Way in favor of circling the campus perimeter on Montlake, Pacific, and 45th. If the primary motion is delivering people to and from Link, this would certainly be the way to go.
You’ve already missed your opportunity to apply for the mobility board (sorry), but there will be lots of public comment leading up to a Summer 2020 commit to the new route network.
Mike Orr contributed to this report.