Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times:
Twelve Metro bus routes from downtown to West Seattle, White Center and Burien will move from their temporary path on gridlocked First Avenue South to Fourth Avenue South beginning Sept. 9.
This route change follows rider complaints that public transit crawls so slowly along First Avenue that it can sometimes take an hour to travel a few blocks.
The 1st Avenue alignment has been a disaster, we’re happy to see Metro cut bait. Big props to Lindblom for calling the city out specifically here for failing to create transit lanes:
Transportation leaders didn’t grasp beforehand how badly First would clog, as [Metro’s Bill] Bryant speculated this spring about 15-minute delays. The city is unwilling to deter private vehicles from Pioneer Square by creating bus-only lanes.
Update: more details from Metro’s blog:
There are few alternatives, but the best option is a shift to Fourth Avenue South. Making the alternative pathway work meant analyzing travel times and consistency, weighing the impact to other routes that travel through the central business district, and determining where buses slowed down and required attention. That took time but was necessary to ensure the revision would work.
Our evaluations determined that a pathway that took Second Avenue (via Columbia Street) to Second Avenue Extension South to Fourth Avenue South was viable. Speed times were slightly slower under normal conditions, but the consistency improved dramatically. This new pathway appeared to have little effect on the travel time of other nearby routes, and we were able to identify areas that could be addressed directly by our partners at SDOT.