Route 44 will see a frequency bump on Sundays (SounderBruce)

In recent years, with the Seattle area financially flush and demand for public transit rising by the week, there hasn’t been much mystery to Metro service changes. Each one has added just a few more service hours, devoted to some combination of improving the network and backfilling for construction-related headaches. And the next one, which starts this Saturday, September 21, is no exception.

Happily, after Seattle Squeeze impacts ate most of last March’s added hours, Metro had a bit more latitude this time to make improvements that riders can see. There are no major route changes, but a generous helping of “peanut butter”-style frequency and span improvements continue the trend toward a better frequent network. The Sunday improvements in Seattle are particularly welcome, and we hope they continue. It would be really nice to stop saying “It’s Sunday. Let’s not take the bus.”

Martin asked me to cover Sound Transit service changes as well, but there is almost nothing changing about Sound Transit service. The very few changes are mixed in below.

All-Day Frequency Improvements

The RapidRide E Line expands its span of at least 10-minute frequency on weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend frequency remains at 12 minutes (Saturday) or 15 minutes (Sunday).

Routes 1 and 14, which are through-routed with each other, gain 15-minute frequency on weekdays. The improvement to route 14 is a key part of rationalizing service to the southern Central District; I hope weekends, which retain 20- to 30-minute frequency for the moment, can follow suit soon.

Route 21, serving the 35th Av SW corridor, expands its span of 15-minute frequency on Saturday to 10 p.m.

Route 40 finally gets 15-minute frequency all day on Sunday, together with a few extra trips on weekdays and Saturdays to improve the span of 15-minute service, which now lasts from approximately 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Route 41 expands its span of at least 15-minute frequency from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (10 p.m. on Sunday). It’s nice to see continued effort to improve service to Northgate even though Link will replace this route soon.

Route 44, the city’s busiest east-west route, improves from 15-minute to 12-minute frequency on Sunday… curiously, only in the morning. Afternoon and evening service frequency on Sunday remains at 15 minutes.

Route 48 in the 23rd Ave corridor expands its span of at least 15-minute frequency from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (10 p.m. on Sunday).

Routes 60 and 107 don’t get all-day frequency improvements on their own. But they finally get coordinated scheduling, to create effective 15-minute frequency over a very wide span in their combined corridor along 15th Av S, between Beacon Hill Station and Georgetown. Riders in this corridor can expect a bus at least every 15 minutes every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Routes 65 and 67 serving North Seattle, which are through-routed with each other, get 15-minute frequency all day on Sunday, and expand their span of at least 15-minute frequency to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends.

Route 101 trunk service to Renton gets a longer span of service, adding trips to provide hourly service until midnight.

Route 105 in the Renton Highlands gets 30-minute service on Sunday, to match its current weekday and Saturday schedules.

Route 120 through the Delridge and Ambaum corridors expands its span of at least 15-minute frequency from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

Route 150 trunk service to Kent gets one “owl” trip per night, departing Seattle at 2:15 a.m.

Route 164, connecting Kent and Green River College, gets 30-minute service on Saturday, and a later span of 30-minute service (until 10:30 p.m.) on weekdays. Curiously given its high ridership, the route still has no service at all on Sunday.

Route 183, a coverage route in southwest Kent, gets 30-minute service on Saturday.

Route 346 serving the Meridian Ave N corridor expands its span of 30-minute service until 9 p.m. on weekdays, which also has the effect of extending the route’s 15-minute common corridor with route 345, serving North Seattle College and Northwest Hospital, until 9 p.m.

DART route 906 connecting Southcenter and Fairwood (which replaced regular route 155, for those with long memories) gets 30-minute frequency all day on weekdays, over a span from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Des Moines Community Shuttle adds half-hourly service weekday middays and Saturdays.

Peak-Hour Overcrowding Fixes

Consistent with its practice in recent years, Metro is addressing all of the overcrowding needs identified in the most recent Route Performance Report. The peak-hour improvements are the following:

  • RapidRide C Line gets three new morning and two new evening trips.
  • RapidRide D Line gets three new evening trips.
  • The Queen Anne end of route 3 gets two new inbound morning trips.
  • Route 5 gets three new morning and three new evening trips.
  • Route 11 gets two new round-trips in the morning and one in the afternoon, eliminating some minor “gaps” in the 15-minute service pattern.
  • Route 17 gets one new evening trip.
  • Route 28 gets one new morning trip.
  • Route 36 gets two new morning and two new evening trips.
  • Route 43 gets two new morning trips headed toward the University of Washington.
  • Route 44 gets two new morning trips.
  • Route 107 gets one new evening trip.
  • Route 218 gets one new trip in each direction.
  • Route 252 gets one new morning trip.
  • Route 255 gets one new evening trip.
  • Route 271 gets one new evening trip.
  • Route 311 gets one new morning trip.
  • Route 372 gets two new evening trips.
  • Route 373 gets two new evening trips.
  • Sound Transit route 522 adds one new morning trip, but pays for it by removing the very last night trip westbound.
  • Sound Transit route 542 adds one new eastbound morning trip.

Grab Bag

As always, there are a few small but noteworthy items tucked into the package.

Route 22 will be rerouted in the south Delridge area, to use Delridge Way instead of the narrow, residential 24th Av SW.

Sound Transit route 554 will revise its eastbound routing to use S Jackson St in the International District, which allows a new eastbound stop at Maynard Av S.

DART route 903 will be truncated to end at the King/Pierce county line at 39th Av SW, with its low-ridership service to Northeast Tacoma deleted. Some replacement service is being provided by an extension of peak-only Pierce Transit route 63, running express to Tacoma.

51 Replies to “Metro dishes up the peanut butter”

  1. Ugg, Route 903, while operated by Metro, the Tacoma portion is funded by Pierce Transit.

    And when will PT get it through their think heads that straight line routes are always better? A straight line down Northshore to Browns Point would have been the same length of route but better ridership since riders could get everywhere faster.

    1. They are doing nearly that now, just ending at the Center at Norpoint so it’s short enough to do with a single bus. I think the longer routing works better if it goes all the way to Tacoma with one bus and if it runs all day. I think people didn’t understand why they had to take another bus, or didn’t even think they could (because the bus doesn’t go to downtown Tacoma, I can’t take it to downtown Tacoma). I think something closer to all day service is important, since PT’s community feedback included the desire for more trip times, including night service. The longer route would make more sense then, since it connects residents to a community center, a library, and a grocery store. Suffice to say, they aren’t exactly getting quite to night service (except maybe by Piece Transit standards), but the 4/5 peak trips (compared to today’s 3/3) seems significantly less intimidating for a potential rider.

  2. With the change involving essentially better frequency without routing changes, Metro is setting up conditions for an interesting case study on how better frequency may or may not increase daily transit ridership. Will Metro monitor and report any before-and-after data about this by any more specifics than average daily route boardings?

    A related topic is how Metro will do any outreach to let potential riders know of the frequency improvements. A simple small temporary sign or banner on a bus stop pole announcing “Now every 15 minutes until 10 pm weekdays” could be a powerful and cheap direct marketing effort. The impact of doing this could probably also be a good topic for a before-and-after study.

  3. It’s interesting that routes 164 & 183 are getting half hour headways on Saturdays, while still not running on Sundays. I would think that the priority would be 1. Hourly Sunday service 2. Half-hourly Saturday service 3. Half-hourly Sunday service.

    1. If you have the flexibility to travel either Saturday or Sunday, a more usable Saturday schedule is better than having the same hourly crap on Saturdays also available on Sundays.

      Also, adding Sunday service creates more paratransit obligations, but improving frequency on Saturday does not. Paratransit requirements are based on whether regular bus service exists at all not how frequently it rubs.

    2. The 183 has pretty low ridership and I can see that it might not justify Sunday service.

      The 164 is a different story, and I honestly find the lack of Sunday service on it baffling. I suppose the thinking is that GRCC has nothing happening on Sunday and that most of the rest of the ridership is in the area shared with the 168.

      1. Are there good reasons why the 158 and 159 still exist? How much local service on the 164 and 168 could be added by scavenging those service hours?

    3. Good points. Hourly service is crap, but it’s something a rider can make do with *if* the service span is big enough. Hourly trips make service less convenient, but no Sunday service makes trips impossible. And for the weekend riders (though admittedly few) who have a desire for Sunday service, that would probably be more important to them then being able to leave at 7:45 instead of 7:15.

      Anecdotally, I used to live car-free on hourly bus service in Federal Way, and a huge limitation for me was the fact that the last trip of my bus on Sunday left at 8:45pm (vs nearly midnight in other days), meaning I had to leave Seattle at about 7:30 to make it. I would have taken 3 hours headways on Sunday if it meant that there could be a 10pm trip.

    4. Must be nice to have Saturday/Sunday/evening/non-peak-direction/non-peak-daytime service, unlike the other end of Auburn.

  4. Nice to see some adjustment to the 373.

    Now if Sound Transit or Metro could just keep elevators operational at the Yarrow Point stop on 520.

    Not sure why I should vote for these “improvements” when they don’t function

    1. Not sure why I should vote for these “improvements” when they don’t function.

      Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

      Elevators and escalators can always (in theory) be fixed. Additional bus service and priority are always a battle to fund and implement.

      1. You might be able to fit in one of the sardine can elevators they use on the north end of ID Station if you demo’d the staircase and rebuilt it half as wide


        Dunno if that’s feasible but there’s not a lot of room to work with there.

  5. Any morning frequency additions to the #11 are welcome, but I was hoping that they would fill the gaps in late morning peak, but it looks like they remain 16-18 minutes apart. 7:52, 8:08, 8:24, 8:42 a.m. departures are the worst stretch where the bus actually gets crushloaded and bunched. Most of the rest of the time there’s plenty of room.

    1. I feel the same about the 372. Metro keeps adding 1-2 trips at odd hours, or in the non-peak direction. But during morning rush hour, there’s a trip missing around 9am which leaves a gap of 18 minutes between 372s.

      I also can’t wait for the day when the 372 finally goes past Lake City on weekends. The 522 is a poor local bus along Lake City Way / Bothell Way.

      1. Base capacity, people. Metro doesn’t have the capability to add peak-period trips in most cases right now, because that requires an extra bus, and there’s no room for more buses. Not until south base annex comes online.

      2. Why not spread the existing buses more evenly? 8:30-10:00am, time spacing in minutes on the 372 is 5-3-5-4-4-5-6-17-8-7-7-5-9. 14 buses in 90 minutes = 1 bus every 6/7 minutes. Spread out some of the earlier buses so there isn’t as large of a hole in the middle. And it doesn’t require extra service hours.

      3. Seattle has some ability to increase peak service, by painting 3rd Ave red.

        The county has some ability to increase peak service, by getting all the 3rd Ave ORCA readers installed, and then put some space between the cash fare and the electronic fare. It could also look at whether the presence of some buses like the 122, 157, 158, and 159 are really justified when train connections could save service hours to improve local service and fewer buses downtown could improve bus flow.

        The state has some ability to increase peak bus service, by passing the bus lane camera enforcement bill.

        Faster buses are possible. That’s the better approach for increasing trips.

    1. The D has the numbers for it, but it would be a huge addition of hours.

      I don’t think the C can justify it outside of peak hours at this point.

    2. Agreed. But the whole RapidRide network ought to get attention, foremost the A Line, which would be so much better if it got Link frequency. Sadly, evening service on the south-end RapidRides has gotten chiseled away at, while span of useful service on the 574 and 578 gets shorter and shorter. Consolidate those hours into the Pierce Transit local route between Tacoma and Federal Way (the 500), and the A Line, so that the options don’t collapse simultaneously mid-evening. Build a late-evening/night owl local-stops bridge to 2030.

  6. Only one additional evening trip for the 271 :(
    There’s so much pent-up demand for the segment between downtown bellevue and UW station, but I don’t see how problems would be fixed unless they created a separate route for that segment instead of bundling it with the Issaquah portion. Having the same route serve U district, Bellevue, and Issaquah makes it especially prone to the bus-bunching phenomenon.

      1. I didn’t realize they already had some seperate trips for that segment. However, I wonder how much of a reliability impact there is from still serving Eastgate instead of starting at Bellevue transit center. For doing the reverse commute, it’s often faster to do 271 => light rail instead of the 550, but with the insane evening crowding and unpredictable wait times in the evening it’s not worth the hassle for me. At least I get my own seat on the 550.

      2. Those Eastgate -> Bellevue 271s are serving Bellevue Community College. A truncation to Bellevue Transit Center cuts them off. You could put the first stop inside BCC., but you can’t really remove the overall service.

      3. How about splitting the 271 at Bellevue TC, and improving reliability on both resulting shorter routes? Does the Issaquah segment really need artics?

      4. There are no artics on the 271. It operates out of Bellevue Base, which has no artics.

        A few trips used to be out of East Base, but I think those have all been eliminated.

      5. A surprisingly large amount of BCC students live West of the lakes. Splitting at BTC forces the plurality of rides into two seat ride territory. It could be done, but it really shouldn’t. It would actively make transit worse for the Eastside.

        Splitting at Eastgate makes much more sense. Between Eastgate and Issaquah, the route becomes meandering and much more “local”. In Bellevue the 271 is much more of an “express” type service. At the UW, it kind of splits the middle, like many express routes to/from 520.

      6. At a minimum, the weekend version of the 271 needs to be re-thought. During the weekend, every bus goes all the way out to Issaquah – no buses truncate at Eastgate – and they pay for sending every single bus out to Issaquah by running the route with poor frequency – half-hourly at best, dropping to hourly around 6 PM (westbound) and 8 PM (eastbound). The span of service also leaves much to be desired, with the last trip of the night leaving the U-district around 10:30 PM.

        Not only does this provide too much service to Issaquah at the expense of the more popular sections, but it’s also not even all that useful for Issaquah, at least in terms of connecting the major nodes. Issaquah TC->Eastgate is much faster on the 554. Issaquah TC->U-district is much faster on the 554 and Link, even with the overhead of the downtown transfer. Even Issaquah TC->Bellevue TC, the one-seat ride on the 271 is not actually any faster than various two-seat ride options, such as 554->240 (connecting at Eastgate) or 554->550 (connecting at Mercer Island).

        On top of all this, Metro schedules in a 5-minute pause at Bellevue Transit on most weekend trips to change bus drivers, so thru-riders are effectively required to pay the transfer penalty anyway – they just don’t have to get off the bus to do it.

        On weekends, I would absolutely truncate the route at Bellevue Transit Center to fund 15-minute service across the lake.

        Weekdays, I’m less confident. My gut feeling is, for now, to terminate all weekday trips at Eastgate and move the Issaquah tail onto some lesser route, such as the 212 (only selected trips, of course). Longer term, Bellevue College should be connected to Link at South Bellevue P&R via a quick, I-90 based shuttle, which sounds much faster than slogging through Bellevue for 15 miles on a local bus.

      7. Colleges draw from quite a large area. In the past ten years my roomate on Capitol Hill has attended Seattle Central, Bellevue College, and Shoreline. He says he prefers Shoreline now for the educational quality and atmosphere.

        The 271’s one-seat ride may be convenient from North Seattle, but from the rest of Seattle it makes no difference. From southwest Capitol Hill the choices are Link+271, 550+271, or 554. East Link will make the I-90 alternative even better.

        I once went from the Issaquah Highlands to Bellevue midday. My first thought was 554+271, but that would have been a 20-minute transfer at Issaquah TC (a ghastly concrete jungle) and a 25-minute meander, so instead I took the 554 to Mercer Island and the 550 to Bellevue, which had less waiting and was more pleasant. So a meander from Issaquah to the U-District doesn’t sound very appealing, and that may be partly why the 271’s ridership west of Bellevue College is so low.

  7. Nice to see the added outbound stop on the 554. Eastside riders have been screaming about lack of eastbound service in Chinatown since the 550 left the tunnel in March (and the 554’s outbound routing was changed to Dearborn via 4th prior to that). Sound Transit’s suggestion of backtracking to 2nd/Yesler was never really workable.

  8. I’m loving how Metro is open to ways to improve span of frequent service that don’t involve adding service hours. That’s smart and colors outside the Service Guidelines. And I’m glad they are following the Service Guidelines to figure out where to distribute extra service.

    Maybe we should throw re-examination of loop-de-loop deviations into the Guidelines so that things like the Georgetown loop-de-loop on route 107 (ruining the route for kids trying to get to various schools while providing an improved pathway between Georgetown and Renton for … Not Me, Ida Know, and Nobody?) don’t become permanent via inertia. At the very least, ditch the Georgetown loop-de-loop during peak pre-first-bell and post-final-bell hours, since route 60 provides excellent frequency between Georgetown and Beacon Hill Station during those times. When posting signage seeking comments about such a routing change proposal, please post all along the route, not just the stops being considered for removal. Every rider who rides by that stop would be impacted, the vast majority of them positively. But thanks much for fixing the schedules on this Beacon Hill Station de facto trunk line with two neighborhood tails!

    Thank you also to the City of Des Moines for their investment! I intend to ride the shuttle and stop by an old Thai restaurant in the Marina District I rarely get to as soon as a I get a Saturday off. Well, maybe the next Saturday after I enjoy my 25-cent transfer to the monorail, and see how the vegan food options have improved in Lower Queen Anne.

    1. It appears that STBD is paying for most, but not all, of the improvements in Seattle. But that is based on comparisons of numbers that may not track exactly, so I’m not completely sure.

  9. Still missing east-west service along Mercer to serve the north Seattle Center area and connect with the C-line, 40, 62, to name a few…
    I also miss the old 30 that made it super- easy to get from the UW area to the center instead of route that meanderd far far west via Interbay,

    1. I agree that there should be an east-west connection in SLU, but pushing it through the Mercer Mess would be like throwing service hours into a ditch. Once the Harrison crossing of the old Highway 99 is complete, there should definitely be service along that corridor.

      Service from the UW area to Seattle Center will be provided by a transfer from Link to the Monorail at Westlake, which will be accepting ORCA shortly. This will improve further when Northgate Link opens and there’s a proper UDistrict station.

    2. As someone who now lives on the southwest side of QA and works in SLU, I totally get the desire for a bus on Mercer, but that street is just a traffic disaster area. I can often walk faster than the cars on Mercer. That’s why Metro changed the 30 (and the former 16).

      Once the SR 99 roadwork is done, maybe there could be a revived 30 via Roy St, 5th Ave N, Harrison St and Dexter or Westlake. It would be a little circuitous but probably reliable enough, and maybe the circuitousness is worth it to serve the Center and the dense south slope of Queen Anne.

      1. Given so many complaints about Mercer, did SDOT mess it up by creating one wide two-way street, rather than extend the Mercer-Roy one-way couplet east from Fifth to the I-5 ramps?

        I realize it’s an academic question but given the huge mess and huge crosswalk distances, I have to wonder.

      2. Bruce, that’s what the *8* should do… Roy, 5th, Harrison, Fairview, Denny, Olive, John, etc….

    3. The 30 was replaced with the 32 because the 32 route was faster at peak hours, despite its geographic indirectness.

      1. Bruce is correct. the Harrison Street over crossing now provides a more direct pathway opportunity. The Mercer West project disrupted the earlier pathways.

        Note that it is chunky and not smooth peanut butter.

      2. I have personally found the 70 (plus ~15 minutes walking) to be the quickest option between the U-district and Seattle Center. If you walk fast, it can be significantly quicker than the 32 (depending on which end of Seattle Center you’re going to). Plus, you get the 70’s frequency of service.

        Once the Monorail starts accepting Orca cards, Link+monorail is likely to be even faster. But, I’m hesitant to try it today because the Monorail’s boarding process is so inefficient. Today, the process of waiting in line to purchase the tickets takes far more time than actually riding it.

  10. The additional 17X trip in the PM peak appears to be at the very beginning of the peak (departing 4/Jackson at 3:20pm).

    This increases the span of express service, but doesn’t really help overcrowding – the first 18X of the day is rarely full.

    The biggest cause of PM peak overcrowding on the 17/18 is the lack of schedule adherence – buses can easily be 5+ minutes late at the 3rd stop of the route.

  11. Something too long left unmentioned in training, about coach headways: Individual drivers have considerable control over spacing and should use it.

    With some drivers, it’s deliberate work-avoidance to ride the back bumper of the overloaded coach ahead of you. Part of probably transit operations’ worst misconception: “Everybody should just drive their own bus.”

    Regarding matters like both following distance and holding for connections, shouldn’t be allowed to survive first day of training. Attitude should be, “If I can see it, or even just know it’s there….I’m adjustably coupled to it.”

    Works for agencies and all their departments, and should be major underpinning for fare policy too.

    Mark Dublin

  12. Considering the 22 is moved to Delridge, I wonder why it isn’t also moved from 41st Ave SW to California. I know this was discussed many years ago, but at that time the 22 ran to Downtown, while now it is just a shuttle.

    1. The 22 runs on 41st Ave SW because streetcars once ran there. I don’t why that is important, but Metro has considered it important for 70 years now.

      My big question is whether Metro will add any stops on the new Delridge segment of the 22. Same-stop transfers from the 120 are an opportunity for major ridership increase.

      1. Yes, both routes will share stops at Delridge/Trenton.

        But there are already same-stop transfers between these two routes farther south, on 26 Av SW.

  13. Actually route 101 will have the last outbound trip to Renton leaving Seattle around 12:50am or so daily. (so service to midnight per your description, is slightly wrong)

    1. Yes, it’s hard to tell what time to cite. Each direction is different, and the bus’s origin may be irrelevant to passengers coming from the middle of a long run.

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