Buses waiting to turn onto South Dearborn Street (SounderBruce)

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.

61 Replies to “Metro reverts West Seattle buses to 4th Avenue”

  1. Does this mean the bus only lane on the 4th Ave. exit ramp from the West Seattle Bridge is back, or that, unlike before, buses will have to wait in line with the cars to access the exit?

    1. From my understanding, the reroute is in the outbound direction (e.g. downtown to west Seattle). Inbound buses will still be using 99. There was a mention that the NB SR 99 bus lane would be coming back.

    2. It’s unclear from the map or the press release how northbound buses will get from the WS Bridge to the Busway during the Dearborn Demolition Deviation (!).

      All other times, the current NB route (99, Dearborn, 1st) remains.

  2. SDOT leadership shows its true colors with this one, a clear picture of an administration unwilling to take meaningful action that might risk an outcry from SOV drivers (who seemed to be just as frustrated). And bummer for Metro — seemingly caught in the middle of an angry ridership and an intransigent city authority.

    This pathway is better, but it’s still imperfect. Please welcome our new complaint overlords: freight trains!

    Also, this pathway will break down on game days, particularly postgame, so additional coordination with SPD should be planned. (It’s a low-frequency event once the Mariners conclude their season, though.)

    1. The Mariners have 8 remaining weekday home games and all are 7:10 starts.

      It looks like the Seahawks have two weekday night games. Thursday October 3rd vs Rams and Monday December 2nd vs. Vikings.

    2. ” an administration unwilling to take meaningful action that might risk an outcry from SOV drivers”

      And the Times article spills the beans: “The city is unwilling to deter private vehicles from Pioneer Square by creating bus-only lanes.”

      1. Should we expect the same inflexibility from the city on 1st for streetcar right of way?

        The city has done a pretty good job of painting itself into a corner on this one. My expectation and hope is the center city connector gets rerouted off 1st as well, preferably towards the waterfront.

      2. Losing street parking in Pioneer Square seems likely to be the reason the streetcar is delayed until past the mayor’s term.

      3. Jim, it can’t be a “connector” if it’s “rerouted off 1st” toward “the waterfront”. There’s a wee bump between 1st and Alaskan Way at Stewart.

        Jes’ saying.

      4. Can anyone explain to me when the City said they’re unwilling to deter private vehicles from Pioneer Square?

        My recollection is that the City said they’d be willing to create a transit lane, but it had to be on the inside lane due to structural issues because there are sections of the outside lane that can’t support the weight of buses (because the 100+ year old underground tour area is right there). But this would have required the bus to skip past all the new stops on 1st Ave, which no one wanted.

        Don’t get me wrong – I think that the City should be creating bus lanes much more aggressively. But in this case, seems like the issue more about Metro catering to bus riders who liked the new temporary bus stops than to SOVs (who can leave 1st Ave to less congested streets at the first opportunity).

      5. To be clear, Metro proposed a route like this with bus lanes years ago as a solution to this looming situation and the city was unwilling to even consider it.

        Where is the leadership to at least try and push real transit solutions to the public and see if they can be built? SDOT should propose a bus lane solution along with this routing ASAP.

      6. The streetcar’s center lanes are north of Pioneer Square. Right around Yesler Way Yesler 1st Avenue is so narrow it’s considered infeasible because it would create too much of a bottleneck, and this is the area you’re talking about for bus lanes.

  3. This is not an improvement, in fact, it might even make the C-Line worse.
    I think it would be helpful if the people making these decisions actually went down to the street level, just you know, for one entire week during peak commute times, and observe the absolute mess they’ve created.

  4. Great! Now when will they realize it is the same shit show on 3rd. Oh, let’s clear the tunnel just for the Light Rail and divert all that traffic up to the street. Another one of Seattle’s dumbest ideas ever.

    1. It was cleared for the Convention Center. There was no reason to kick out the buses early. The original plan was to have the tunnel work completed by then, but even when it was clear that it wouldn’t be, Dow Constantine really wanted the new convention center right away. The tunnel wasn’t needed, of course, but kicking the buses out before they cleared the mess from the unnecessary tunnel is basically why things are so bad. Oh, that, and the fact that the tunnel really didn’t do much for transit (it actually made getting from Aurora to downtown worse).

    2. It’s not the tunnel buses’ fault! There aren’t that many of them, and they’re dispersed across several streets. Third Avenue has one more route, the 41. The others are on 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Avenues and Union Street and Stewart Street. None of the West Seattle buses were in the tunnel, so they were not hurled from the tunnel to First Avenue, and keeping the other buses in the tunnel wouldn’t have helped them. The problem is a combination of things happening all at once: ongoing Highway 99 modifications, the Viaduct demolition, the Waterfront reconstruction, and several building projects.

      The buses were going to get ejected from the tunnel next month anyway because ST is installing a turn track at Intl Dist for East Link that will somehow be incompatible with buses. The only thing the Convention Center did was accelerate the ejection 6-9 months. The worst part of the squeeze is not last summer or now, it’s October and next year. Delaying the ejection until September would not have solved this First Avenue problem.

      1. None of the West Seattle buses were in the tunnel, so they were not hurled from the tunnel to First Avenue, and keeping the other buses in the tunnel wouldn’t have helped them.

        Sure it would. It would have given Metro more places to put the buses. Just read what they said:

        Making the alternative pathway work meant … weighing the impact to other routes that travel through the central business district…

        In other words, if buses were still allowed in the tunnel, than West Seattle buses would be the ones “dispersed across several streets”. They can’t, because buses formally in the tunnel are taking up much of the space.

        Delaying the ejection until September would not have solved this First Avenue problem.

        No, but it would have dramatically reduced the duration and severity of it.

  5. At least metro found a way to pass the buck for their crappy planning. And yes, third is also a shit show but hey blame the cars if it makes you feel better. Or just indignant.

    1. Its because of SOV drivers. Who are self righteous and rather idiotic about this mess. OWNING A CAR IN SEATTLE ON AVERAGE COSTS THE SAME PER MONTH AS A STUDIO APARTMENT. bring on tolls to bring down the cars…buses are cheaper and faster with the bus only lanes and statewide law allowing busses to drive on the shoulder on freeways.

    2. The bus routing is Metro’s fault but the streets and SOVs are SDOT’s responsibility. And you can’t expect planners to predict the future 100% because there are a lot of uncertain factors; it depends on thousands of people’s individual decisions, and they themselves may not have known beforehand what they would do. If they don’t know, how can the planners know?

      1. If none of us replies to Grief Giver, he’ll eventually sulk off to his hidey hole behind the Fremont Troll.

        I vote for a “Virtual Block” button…..

  6. I never thought I’d seen the day when moving to the 4th Avenue Stadium congestion would be an improvement. I’m always cursing its impact on the 131/132. But it’s not as bad as these reports from 1st Avenue, and it’s only on game days rather than every day.

  7. “Transportation leaders didn’t grasp beforehand how badly First would clog”

    If only we had those transit lanes on First Avenue now.

    1. “Transportation leaders ” –
      Who are these people? Do they have names? What are their qualifications? How did they achieve their positions? Since they have no “grasp”, how can they be replaced?

  8. It’s worse than it appears. A huge problem in Pioneer Square right now is pedestrian access anywhere across 1st and along E/W arterials like Jackson. Drivers are frustrated and blocking the box, laying on their horns, running red lights, and making illegal turns across lanes. It’s nearly Deathrace 2000.

    This bad behavior has created a nightmare for people on the street. The whole neighborhood is on edge from the noise and close calls with cars and trucks.

    It’s been gratifying to see Metro outreach employees stationed at bus stops on 1st to meet stone faced commuters, but this is not enough. The Mayor and County Executive need to get down to First ave and Jackson and I don’t mean for lunch at Carmines. They need to look at this absolute clusterf@ck they have created, and not simply walk away this time but actually do something to save First Ave.

    Here’s my list:
    1. Paint a red bus lane on 1st
    2. Add scrambles to intersections at 1st and King, 1st and Jackson, 1st and Yesler
    3. Add police enforcement to deter bad behavior and use the ticket revenue to fund items 1 and 2

    And then call Mayor McGinn so he can say I told you so.

    1. It’s not clear you could make a good bus lane on first easily. They weren’t allowed to drive on the right lane through pioneer squre except where the bus stop is due to road structure issues, so the bus lane would likely have to be a center lane, with buses then crossing into the right lane at the stop.

      1. Yeah it’s not an ideal solution due to the weave required. Maybe a queue jump at stops close to intersection?

        The streetcar lane will be bus only, we need new coaches with left side doors if busses are to share those stops.

      2. A cue jump wouldn’t help if the next block is completely filled with cars. That would just mean buses would start to merge and get stuck blocking the box.

        A transit lane which buses have to repeatedly leave isn’t very helpful. Buses can’t merge over to the bus stops unless SOVs give them room, but the SOVs have no where to go (except illegally entering the transit lane).

        I can’t see any way to make an inside transit lane work without banning SOVs entirely (yay!) or skipping past all the new bus stops south of Columbia (not ideal, but those stops are just temporary anyway).

    2. Simpler solution: Ban cars from Pioneer Square until the new Alaskan Way opens up. Busses and commercial delivery/service vehicles only. Simpler in principle, at least. The fact is SOV cars aren’t getting through there any quicker even with the busses re-routed (remember this next time someone claims it’s busses that cause congestion!). Commercial vehicles can’t reach their clients. And ambulances and fire rescue can’t get around quickly.

      1. Just ticket box blockers, red light runners, and other infractions at King, Jackson, Washington, and Main. That would deter Uber drivers which would help.

  9. I hope Metro dispatchers are watching for Holgate crossing train delays, and able to quickly re-route buses onto the Edgar Martinez overpass. The 21 has been plagued with delays of up to 30 minutes for decades during extended train operations blocking the at-grade crossings.

  10. so the east and north riders get bus only lanes and the south and west riders get screwed with no outbound bus only lanes. nice way to reward the sov’s and screw the transit users.

    1. I see a favoring of the more affluent and politically influential areas over the less affluent and politically influential ones — the Seattle Process?:)

  11. From a business point of view at any level, is there any proof that a lane blocked with single-occupancy cars delivers more customers than would the same lane enforced transit only ?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Car drivers are real customers and spend more, apparently. The 45th Street businesses swear up and down that if they lose street parking they’ll lose their customers and go bankrupt. Apparently none of their customers come by bus or on foot, and it won’t increase even with more bus service and more housing nearby. Because bus riders are poor and don’t exist, I guess.

  12. One fix for the problem is cordon congestion pricing. Put the revenue in a piggy bank for a new bus tunnel.

    1. Where would the cordon be?

      How would you avoid screwing residents of southwest Capitol Hill, First Hill, Pioneer Square, and Uptown/SLU? There are only a few ways to go north or south and many of them require driving through downtown. And people can’t always ride transit, not of they’re going to Costco for a carload or taking stuff to the dump or moving, or they have car-dependent family visiting them. It’s one thing to implement a congestion charge in central London which is wide open in all directions and has excellent transit (by US standards). It’s another thing to put it in the middle of an isthmus with limited ways to get around it.

      1. Since when is asking people to pay a fee “screwing” them over? Every time I take the bus, I don’t think “Here I am, being screwed over again”. It is just a fee. There are thousands of people who pay to cross 520, because going on I-90 or going around is way too difficult (try getting from the UW to Kirkland). There will be thousands who will use the new SR 99 tunnel because it beats the heck out of working your way over to I-5, and then back. Yet I don’t hear about “people being screwed” by any of it. People adjust. They travel when traffic isn’t heavy. They go different routes. They would do the same with downtown tolls.

      2. Congestion pricing is supposed to be about deterring choice drivers from driving downtown. To get from Capitol Hill to SODO without going downtown you have to use Jackson Street (which is also congested), Dearborn Street, or Holgate Street. To get from Capitol Hill to SLU/Uptown/Interbay you have to use Denny Way (which is also congested), or maybe Lakeview Boulevard, or cross the Ship Canal twice. And depending where the cordon is, Denny Way, Jackson Street, and Lakeview (Mercer Street?) may be inside it, you have to go briefly through it, and I don’t think a $1 or $3 or whatever toll is is fair in that case. It would be different if there weren’t a Lake Union and a Jose Rizal Canyon (for want of a better name) constraining the ways around downtown. People pay for a bus because it’s a long enough distance, or they cross a bridge because it’s a substantial benefit. This is paying a toll just to go a few blocks because you’re off in an awkward corner — you’re not getting a substantial benefit for the toll, you’re just suffering to satisfy somebody’s idea of an abstract absolute. “Gor, congestion charge, cool! Let’s put them everywhere!”

      3. That’s why I think anyone who supports a downtown congestion charge should say where the cordon will be so we can figure out what the impacts will be and debate that. Otherwise it’s a misleading idea in a vacuum because everybody thinks it’ll only affect lazy suburbanites who drive downtown, which isn’t true.

      4. It seems that some people on this forum feels that everyone can ride the bus, light rail, use a bicycle or ride a skateboard or what ever but not everyone can. There are people who must drive for business reasons, family requirements and/or public transportation is not convenient or they choose to drive and in all cases they have a right to do so. The streets belong to them just as much as it belongs to buses.

        I also get a kick out of these grandiose plans for future tunnels, bridges and light rail and that the bond issues will pay for these ideas. Maybe you need to think that the taxpayers in the area may be taxed out and may not be willing to pass these bond issues to pay for these ideas. There was tax shock when the taxpayers found out how much their taxes went up after the last ST bond issue for some 53 billion dollars and especially in Pierce and Snohomish counties where they have been paying these taxes for years but have not seen much results. Yes it is in the future but for how many years have they been told that.

        Maybe some of you need to realize that the taxpayers are not ATM’s with unlimited funds and there is a limit on how much more they want to pay. The same with Durkan’s proposed congestion pricing. Maybe that works in a city like London where they have a great transit system which the Seattle area does not have.

        Some of you need to step back from your grandiose plans that costs billions of dollars and look at the reality of where that money is coming from and especially if the taxpayers say no. And the same with congestion pricing that if implemented will wave the magic wand and all traffic will disappear from the streets. Stop looking through your rose colored glasses and start looking at this in the real world.

      5. There are a lot of people out there that pay through the nose to have their cars available, but the concept of a per-trip cost to get anywhere (beyond gas) is an anethma to them. That is why the difference between “free” and a $2 toll feels such a psychologically big deal, even though it’s chump change compared to the hundreds of dollar per month for car payments.

        When you don’t have a car, your perspective is different. Even if you ride transit most trips, you expect that some trips will have a marginal cost and are used to the concept of paying money to save time, when necessary.

        For example, if you don’t own a car, the I-5 lanes passing through downtown are effectively toll lanes, with the “toll” being whatever Uber, Lyft, or Car2Go is charging at the moment for a particular trip that makes use of them. Ditto with the new highway 99 tunnel, even when the state is temporary making it “free”. The entirety of highway 405 is very close to acting as a de-facto toll road (even the “free” lanes) because the bus service on it is so limited, with poor frequency and a very limited number of access points.

        Even some of the surface streets act as toll roads, as our bus network makes them normally inaccessible (except on foot or bike), but if you’re in a pinch, the option exists to pay Uber or Lyft a “toll” to travel on them. Some simple examples that come to mind include Boren Ave. (shortcut from First Hill to SLU without detour through downtown), Mercer St. (shortcut from Queen Anne to I-5/520 without detour through downtown). The list goes on and on.

      6. Jeff, if we don’t build then we’ll never have transit like London and people will always have difficulty getting around without a car and we’ll be choking in cars. This whole Seattle Squeeze is a problem mainly because ST2 Link isn’t open yet. If it were, then a lot of people wouldn’t be driving, and hundreds of buses would be truncated far away from downtown so there would be room for others. What bothers me about this “Taxed enough already” is that it assumes taxes are the only important thing and the current state of non-car mobility is acceptable long-term. That’s how we got into this mess, by not building proportional transit as the population expanded. Now we have to retrofit it. This Seattle Squeeze wouldn’t be happening now if we had passed Forward Thrust in the 70s or if we had gone bigger with Link in the 90s.

        The uproar about the “$54 billion” (which is only really $28 billion or something in taxes — the $54 billion is ST’s entire budget including other income and future inflation) is mainly in Pierce and South King County, which never liked Link taxes in the first place. I can sympathize somewhat with southeast Pierce not getting much when Link only goes to a corner of the county — like UW station reaches only a corner of North Seattle. But they’re the ones who caused the problem by insisting on living in low-density sprawl and blocking the county from upzoning or improving non-car transportation in their area. Their outrage against ST is one more part of it.

      7. @Mike Orr

        I don’t disagree with what you wrote. The geography of Seattle does require a robust transit but the question is are the taxpayers willing to approve the bond issues required to build it. There is still a lot of anger at the cost of the last ST bond issue and a good indication on how the taxpayers feel will be the Tim Eyman license tab initiative on the November ballot and how the taxpayers vote on it in King, Pierce and Snohomish county.

        I lived in Seattle when the Forward Trust issue was on the ballot and it failed because the area was so completely different. The people who pushed Forward Trust had a long range vision of the future but the taxpayers didn’t agree with them. Hindsight is wonderful and what it could have been if it had passed.

      8. Forward Thrust got a majority but the requirement then was 2/3 majority and it couldn’t reach that. The designers did have a better vision and they were fortunate because “the region” meant part of King County (90% of the tri-county area lived in Seattle). ST’s focus is to “connect Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, and Redmond above all else”.

        The Eyman initiative will be a wildcard in November. Some people mad at ST3 will vote for it, as will those who don’t like $100+ car tabs, and those who don’t like any kind of taxes. (“Just cut social programs and the waste I imagine exists and then you’ll have plenty of money for highways.”) Those outside Pugetopolis are generally anti-tax. If that passes it will whack ST3 but ST2 will still be mostly intact, and it’s the most critical part.

        As for the Forward Thrust leaders’ total vision of the future, we have to look at the future they built. The Lake City – West Seattle – Renton – Bellevue rapid transit network was consistent with the population and travel patterns then. They didn’t foresee how the freeways, which were just being built then, would change job/shopping/travel/living patterns. In the 80s the county was deciding where to channel growth, and gave the public a choice between “metro towns” (satellite cities), parallel north-south dense zones, or concentrating most growth in Seattle. It chose metro towns, but what has that become? Not open country areas between the satellite cities but sprawl, sprawl, sprawl. I blame the Forward Thrust and 80s leaders for that, because their meaning of smart growth was flawed or they were incompetent or lying or pushovers for the decentalizers’ “pave everywhere” and “we love strip malls”.

      9. Oh, the ones who will vote against Eyman’s initiative are those who have had enough with that approach, and they’ve been gaining in the past few initiatives. There’s also the little issue of his alleged self-dealing with donors’ money.

      10. “Some of you need to step back from your grandiose plans that costs billions of dollars and look at the reality of where that money is coming from and especially if the taxpayers say no. And the same with congestion pricing that if implemented will wave the magic wand and all traffic will disappear from the streets. Stop looking through your rose colored glasses and start looking at this in the real world.

        Well, if we looked at our transportation system in a ‘real world’ environment, then every pavement laying project would be put in front of the voters, along with the costs and the benefits spelled out.

        Why don’t we do that? Why did the legislature see fit to adopt an 11.9-cent gas tax increase , (in two stages: 7 cents on Aug.1, 2015, and a further 4.9 cents on July 1, 2016) without a vote of the people?

        The statement “I paid for those roads” is without merit.

        First, because the gas tax doesn’t cover the total cost. All you have to do is go to your local library and look at your municipality’s documentation on the local road projects. Gas tax revenue covers maybe 60%, with the rest coming from other sources, such as the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET).

        Second, there is no ‘sub-area equity’ with roads. It gets sent to wherever the perceived need is. Such as the I-405 corridor.

        The I-405 Corridor program I was involved with back in 1999 had the budget cost of the added SOV lanes(4) at ~$8billion. The FEIS was completed in 2002.
        Was there any state/regional/local ballot measures to ask citizens if they wanted to fund these roads?
        The legislature sat on it, because they were afraid to tell their constituents, “Hey, this is Big Buck$ !” In the meantime, the budget dollar amount ballooned to ~$10billion.
        And for those of you who are thinking “So what, Jim. That was years ago. The study is old.”, then you need to reference WSDOT’s Master Plan.

        In the ‘real world’ transportation infrastructure would either be privately owned, or a public resource, not this nebulous structure we’ve built now.

        If you want Grandiose Plans, just look to our road network.

      11. the question is are the taxpayers willing to approve the bond issues required to build it

        It’s pretty clear that Seattle voters are willing to tax ourselves to pay for transit- ST3 passed in Seattle by roughly 70% to 30%, and we’ve also repeatedly passed measures to expand bus service.

        The major issue for future light rail expansion is that the suburbs are much less enthusiastic about transit than the city- the majority of voters in Pierce County voted against ST3, and ST3 just barely passed in Snohomish County. ST3 did OK in East King, but an earlier county-wide measure for added Metro bus service was voted down. Moreover, in ST3, the suburbs got most of want they want for rail, whereas Seattle has at least another couple major subway lines or extensions that we’d like. Even if the suburbs were down for funding the suburban rail lines in Seattle Subway’s “Vision Map”, the cost in most other sub-areas would likely be well under the price tag for new rail lines in Seattle- there doesn’t seem to be anyway to make sub-area equity work after ST3.

        I think the right solution would for the State legislature to allow Seattle to tax itself to build light rail- the city would collect the money and tell ST what to build, but I’m not sure how to make the politics of this work.

      12. @Jim Cusick,

        You did not read correctly what I was saying and that was that the taxpayers may be reaching the maximum point of what they are willing to pay in additional taxes and that is not just what is being proposed for transportation but also for the other tax issues that are placed on the ballot by the different municipalities in the area.

        Yes the legislature has passed tax increases without voter approval but how many tax issues have been on the ballot in the last years for different things and what I said is that the taxpayers are not ATM’s with unlimited funds. As far as congestion pricing is concerned if Seattle implements that you can be sure that someone or group will gather signatures for an initiative to be placed on the ballot. Will the voters approve congestion pricing. No one knows what the outcome will be.

        That is what I wrote and you kind of twisted around to gas taxes which I never mentioned.

      13. @ Jeff Pittman
        Your admonishment to the transit supporters on this board “Some of you need to step back from your grandiose plans that costs billions of dollars and look at the reality of where that money is coming from …”, is a valid concern.

        It seems to only apply to non-automotive solutions.

        I made my comment to point out the selective nature of your concern.

        Make no mistake. Highway solutions have always had, and still continue to get A Free Ride when it comes to planning, decision making, and public perception.

        I was merely pointing out that true concern for transportation solutions must include ALL modes.

        If Seattle is deciding that they are economically better off overall by Not kowtowing to the SOV community, then it will be evident when and if they implement any congestion pricing.

        Supplying and maintaining SOV infrastructure is as much a drain on the taxpayers as any perceived burden of a transit solution.

        Let the People VOTE for the solution that they feel is of benefit.

        If the ‘more-lanes’ solution is convincing enough to the voters, they will approve that.

        Voters have already approved 3 Sound Transit ballot measures.

  13. Mike, am I wrong that a store that can’t stay in business without immobilizing traffic is already on its way out of business at its present location? Could be old age- at my age, a lot is- but seem to recall that such places accepted delivery service as cost of doing business.

    Over the years, think the two of us agree on this much about the DSTT: that the agencies in charge of it have always considered the training required by Tunnel design capacity, let alone facilities like signalling, not to be worth the cost of successful joint use bus operations. With the buses out of the way, any difference on that account now?

    Anybody with current first-hand experience with the Tunnel…anybody got any first-hand hope for improvement, or simply getting accustomed to living without it? On that point, if anybody in DSTT operations is so inclined- any chance at a regular column?

  14. Why doesn’t Metro run any buses through the SR 99 tunnel? That seems like it would address a real permanent need, and provide more options to deal with this problem.

    Imagine if one of the West Seattle routes skipped downtown entirely to go straight to South Lake Union. Then it could either loop back down to cover some of the northern parts of downtown, or just turn around and get back on southbound SR 99 to give people the chance to transfer onto any of the other downtown buses.

    On the flip side, it would be great if one of north Seattle SR 99 buses used the tunnel to skip straight past downtown to serve people who want to go from North Seattle to Pioneer Square or the southern half of downtown. 26 seems like a great candidate for this since it shares a route with many other lanes on SR 99 (so 5 and E-line riders could easily transfer) and it traditionally turns into the 120 anyway.

    This would similar to the idea behind the 355 express which is one of the rare bus lines that actually acts as a genuine express route, skipping straight from the U District to the southern half of downtown saving about 15 minutes (this line then loops back up through the downtown spine, which would be another option for these hypothetical tunnel routes, although I think offering a good transfer point works just as well.)

    This would create so many more options for people. Not just South Lake Union workers, but also people on long haul trips past downtown, or people going to the northern half of downtown which the C line was originally designed.

    1. This is a great point. Trying to get from West Seattle to anywhere north of the Madison/3rd stop almost triples the time it takes to drive. For example, getting from White Center to Ballard is a 20-25 minute drive through the 99 tunnel, but taking a bus requires the long slog down 3rd and then a transfer (that usually is perfectly mis-timed) to another bus. Having some “cross town” transit through the tunnel would be a huge game changer. It doesn’t even need to run super often like the C or 120. 30 minute headways would probably be enough to cover the demand, but it would actually make taking the bus somewhat competitive with driving.

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