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Metro has recently posted updated recommendations for their upcoming Renton-Kent-Auburn mobility bus restructure. I find these changes exciting as a former rider of some of these routes, especially considering my former weekly 3-seat evening trip from Kent to Federal Way. Though understandably this has gotten less attention than other, more significant restructures like the North Eastside restructure.

Overall, the restructure proposal is quite solid, and is a major upgrade for existing service in the area. However, I have my own take on the proposed changes and some different recommendations for some changes. First, here’s a link to my own map that shows only routes that are changed from the proposal or status quo, as well as entirely new routes that replace other routes in the proposal. Though note that I have not done any service hour math on these to see if it is revenue neutral (though I suspect that it might be), and I have not done any formal route planning work or training.

Routes 102, 148, and 906

Metro notes that Fairwood riders of route 102 to Seattle have a long and slow trip, and that a Sounder connection on route 906 would be faster. While that may be true, it seems to me that the slowness of route 102 is more of a problem of bus routing than an insurmountable obstacle. The fact that route 102 runs as an express for such a short portion of its route between Renton and downtown Seattle seems to be the real issue. If that weren’t the case, then it seems to me that riding a revised route 906 in two loops around Tukwila before transferring to Sounder would not be faster at all.

So my proposal is to move route 102 to run on I-5 south to I-405, and then exit at Rainier Ave S. in Renton, which brings it right to the doorstep of S. Renton P&R. I also propose not making routing changes to routes 148 and 906. Why I-405? It seems attractive because it has good direct access ramps to/from HOV (SB 405 HOV lane becomes a ramp to the left lane of I-5 north, and I-5 south has a left-hand ramp to I-405 north, which is easily accessible from the HOV lane). It also avoids local stops on MLK (which would still be served by the 101) and Rainier Ave S. in Renton (though that’s not so bad since it has BAT lanes). More importantly, route 102 could stay on I-5 until Seneca street in downtown Seattle, skipping SODO, and using the saved service hours to run to South Lake Union to increase the user base. It seems to me that before complaining that the 102 is just too slow for Fairwood, they could at least consider making it an actual express before they throw in the towel.

F-Line, New Route 110

I’ve proposed making the F-line faster for every trip, by making the connection to Southcenter more brief, and spending more time on Southcenter Blvd. It would require HOV or BAT lanes on Southcenter Blvd, which could be from 61st Ave to Interurban Ave eastbound, as well as SW Grady Way east of Interurban Ave westbound (which would probably require some widening or lane reconfiguration on the bridge), and a bus queue jump at the normally right-turn only lane at Interurban Ave. If it sounds like much, it’s not really much compared to real BRT, but these are the kinds of target changes that could make RapidRide F Line at least a little worthy of its name.

This means that RapidRide F line would skip Tukwila Sounder Station. This is because Sounder has only a handful of morning trips and a handful of evening trips (and a few reverse peak trips), and that doesn’t warrant all-day, frequent 7-day service unless it can be served reasonably on the way (which I don’t think it can). For replacement service, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with timed, targeted Sounder service (like there was before the F-line restructure in 2014). So my proposal is also to bring back the 110, restoring a timed Sounder connection to Boeing Renton and Kenworth. The bus would skip Renton TC since its ridership would come from Sounder.

Route 157

It’s curious that Metro recommends transferring route 102 riders to Sounder while not route 157 riders. Route 157 could be more directly routed and truncated at Tukwila Station without being circuitous. If that were to happen, then the very small number of trips (4 morning, 3 evening) could be expanded, perhaps enough to connect to every peak direction train. For efficiency, this route could through route with route 110, something that works because route 157 would drop passengers off who would get on the train, and route 110 would be meant to pick passengers up from the train. So operating both with one bus could be quite efficient, even more so than running trippers all the way to downtown Seattle.

Routes 165, 191

Another weird quirk of Metro’s proposal is the continuation of redundant bus service to downtown Seattle from Kent Station and places east (new route 162), while eliminating routes 158/159. And in fact, they are making this one-seat ride to Seattle slower by merging it with route 192.

My proposal is to not do route 162 at all, and replace routes 158, 159, 190, and 192 with two routes: a north-south route primarily on Military Road to connect to Angle Lake station (route 191), and an east-west route primarily on S. 260th, Reith road, and Meeker street, which is timed to connect to Sounder trains (route 165).

Route 191 would run like route 190 from Redondo Heights P&R, run on Military Road like route 190, and continue on Military Road (or could also take a short hop in I-5) until S. 200th Street, where it could end and connect to Angle Lake Station. This would be a hard sell because everyone’s trip would likely be slower, but in turn, route 191 could run very frequently or possibly even all day. And while Link would probably be slower than an I-5 express, it would be a consistent trip, and passengers would get first access to coveted rush-hour seats on the train. It would also greatly simplify access to other places like UW and the Airport.

Route 165 would bring new service to certain areas of Kent and Des Moines. It would start at Highline College where other buses have a layover space, and run on 16th Ave S (a major neighborhood corridor paralleling the even more major Pacific Highway corridor) until S. 260th Street, turning left and following the road as it becomes Reith Road and then W. Meeker Street. Then it follows the current 183 route, except following Lincoln Ave to James Street P&R, and dropping off at Kent Station timed to meet Sounder to Seattle. Routes 191 and 141 together (along with routes 166 and 183 both running east-west to the north and the south, respectively) would create a robust peak coverage grid, giving a large portion of local residents access to some form of rail service to Seattle with a connector bus.

Route 141

This is another Sounder connector route created to fill in some of the gap made by speeding up the F-Line. The route would run from Angle Lake Station, following a coverage route through SeaTac and Southcenter, connecting to Sounder trains at Tukwila Station. Service would partially duplicate route 156, so route 156 could be consolidated to run in both directions on Military Road and S. 164th Street, while rotue 141 could take the other branch on S. 170th Street. The route would through route with the current route 154 to Federal Center South in exactly the same was as my proposed route 157 would through route with proposed route 110. Additionally, the reason route 141 would start at Angle Lake Station even though very few if any riders would ride from that far to get to Sounder is that certain trips from route 191 could become route 141 (after a longer than usual layover, to ensure that it gets to Tukwila in time to make the train reliably), so it’s operationally efficient in this scenario to start all the way at Angle Lake Station.

This means that on the whole, instead of spending a ton of money on trippers from park and rides to Seattle, we instead have three routes (191, 141, and 154), all with different use cases and audiences, all being able to be run with a single bus.

Route 183

Metro’s proposal has route 183 run every half hour rather than every hour on Saturday, but still not run at all on Sunday. I propose instead running the bus every hour on both Saturday and Sunday, and expanding frequency later when more resources become available. Especially with route 166 being moved off of Meeker Street, and considering that the rest of route 183 serves a unique area with no other options, expanding baseline service to 7 days/week seems more important than expanding frequency at this point.

Route 184

I suggest extending service from the proposed route 184 (the south part of current route 180) into Lakeland Hills, currently only served at peak by Sounder connector Pierce Transit route 497. It is a opportunity created by separating off route 184 from route 180. Funding for service could be done by consolidating with route 497 and maybe working out an agreement with Pierce Transit. Marginally not a ton of additional ridership would be added, but in aggregate this route could be quite popular and bring much more neighborhood transit access to more of SE Auburn.

7 Replies to “Alternate Renton-Kent-Auburn Restructure”

  1. Thanks for the suggestions. It’s not showing me the map link. I’m not familiar enough with the area to know which paths would be best for residents’trips, but here’s a few observations.

    The SODO busway was built to get buses out of I-5 congestion. Moving buses off it would abandon that investment, and contradict Link’s stakeholders’ recommendation to preserve the busway. If we’re taking buses off it, does that mean it was a failure and a waste of money? I’ve been caught in downtown freeway traffic on the 577 and wished it took the busway.

    I’ve always thought the 168 should run on KK Road rather than making two extra turns to serve 256th. And now Metro is doing it.

    The 105 is still 30 minutes midday and weekends. That seems like underservice. If we want Rentonites to ride the bus, we need frequent service from the eastern half where most of them live. If it’s not coming in this restructure then it won’t come for decades.

    The F needs to get out of the Sounder detour. Anything that provides an alternate Sounder route is welcome.

    I’m not sure of your Southcenter proposal. Are you dropping the Baker Blvd stop? That one is important because it’s within walking distance of the mall and surrounding retail and emerging density on Baker Blvd, and the highest-ridership stop between Renton and TIB (and higher than anything in Renton, at least off-peak).

    1. I didn’t know the SODO Busway was meant to actually speed up buses from I-5. I thought it was there to consolidate most SODO bus service into a single corridor with dedicated right-of-way. But it certainly doesn’t seem faster, and they don’t even come close to routing every I-5 bus on it (as you noted). As for the 577 trip, there actually are routes 177 and 178 that take the busway before getting on I-5 to Federal Way.

      As for whether it is scheduled to be faster on the busway, I’ll compare routes 177/178 and 179 (both Metro routes that both serve a stop near the FW transit center, 177 takes the busway, and 179 does not).

      Northbound (from the last stop in Federal Way at 7:45/8:05, to 4th & Pike or Pine):
      179 = 51 minutes, 178 = 59 minutes (SODO adds 8 minutes)

      Southbound (from 2nd Ave Ext & Jackson, at 4:14 and 4:20pm, to first stop in Federal Way):
      179 = 38 minutes, 178 = 48 minutes (SODO adds 10 minutes)

      So if the busway is meant to be faster than I-5, then yes, it’s a failure (35 MPH speed limit with a track buses have to stop for doesn’t help). If it’s meant to make it easier to send buses to both SODO and downtown, then it does that well.

    2. “The 105 is still 30 minutes midday and weekends”
      Makes sense, though it’s hard to find the money. Consolidating the route on weekdays is certainly a step in the right direction, but the 908 was shorter, so one 908 trip doesn’t pay for a while 105 trip. I think what they could do in the meantime is make these half-hourly weekend trips timed to major routes like the 101 or 560 (or both if possible). And somehow let people know about this.

      It also raises the question of where people are going (which is probably not downtown Renton, though some do). Getting people out of cars on weekends is tricky because traffic is usually better, and every single F-line trip still serves Sounder (seriously, taking the F to somewhere when you have the option of driving often takes 2-3 times as long, and if you’re another bus away, then I don’t think bumping frequency helps that much). The bigger transfer scenarios are the 101 (every half hour) and the 560 (every hour), so it probably doesn’t make sense to run the 105 every 15 minutes on weekends as long as a timed and waiting connection is on the table.

    3. The F line would still go to Baker Blvd (I added the map link below, sorry about that. Here it is again: It’s actually possible to have a quicker in-and-out connection to Southcenter, but it is the case that the F-line takes almost the longest possible path to Southcenter, going to every stop on Southcenter Blvd before going south of the freeway (these stops are also served by the 150, so removing the F won’t leave them unserved).

    4. “It also raises the question of where people are going (which is probably not downtown Renton”

      They’re going to downtown Renton to transfer to their ultimate destination in Seattle, Southcenter, Burien, Valley Medical Center, Bellevue, and Redmond. The half-hourly tail makes it time-consuming to do that, so they drive instead and poor people have to maintain a car. That’s what I’m trying to avoid. Also, people who want to live without a car can’t move to the Highlands or they’ll be subject to unreasonable hardships which other countries wouldn’t impose on people.

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