The Swift Blue Line on a snowy day

Community Transit’s Swift Blue Line, the most popular bus route in Snohomish County, is being extended south from Aurora Village to meet Link light rail at Shoreline North/NE 185th Station in 2024. The agency is proposing three routing options for the extension, as well as potential changes to service that would take effect at the same time. While the extension itself is exciting news, the service change concepts are worth discussing, ranging from rearranging stations to introducing short-turn trips.

Routing options for the Swift Blue Line extension (Community Transit)

The three routing options all begin around Aurora Village at Aurora Avenue and 200th Street, and proceed south and east to Shoreline North/NE 185th Station. Alternatives A and C would skip the current terminal at Aurora Village, opting for a set of bus stops on Aurora Avenue, and continue down the street to another stop at North 192nd Street that serves the Shoreline Park and Ride. From there, Alternative A takes the direct route east from Aurora to the station on Northeast 185th Street, while Alternative C turns east at Northeast 175th Street and north onto 5th Avenue Northeast to complete a “hook” with no additional stops.

Alternative B would continue to use the current stop at the transit center and turn south on Meridian Avenue until it reaches Northeast 185th Street. Meridian is a fairly quiet residential street with two lanes and on-street parking, and would not likely run into unfavorable traffic.

Swift’s status as fast suburban BRT is helped along by the use of BAT lanes, which would be incorporated into the Shoreline extension. The Aurora Avenue alternatives would use an existing set of lanes added for the RapidRide E Line, but would have to merge into traffic to make its eastbound turn. The City of Shoreline has adopted plans to add a set of BAT lanes on Northeast 185th Street from near Aurora to 5th Avenue Northeast on the west side of the station. According to CT spokesperson Nashika Stanbro, the agency’s study of extension options will include an analysis of what other transit priority treatments can be added for each alternative, including queue jumps and signal priority.

Alternative A is the most straightforward, being able to use these two BAT-enabled streets without much of a hassle. Alternative C would have to use Northeast 175th Street alongside traffic trying to enter Interstate 5, which causes long backups during peak hours and could reduce schedule reliability. It would, however, be beneficial to riders if stops were added at Shoreline’s civic campus (near Aurora Avenue) and public library (at 5th Avenue Northeast), which both lie on the route.

Other service concepts

Service concepts in the survey (Community Transit)

The Blue Line extension survey also includes three service concepts for review. In an email to STB, Stanbro stated that these concepts are early in the planning process and will be shaped by public input and further development down the road.

The first concept would add or move stations to be more legible for riders and improve accessibility. The Blue Line currently has six “station pairs” that have platforms at separate intersections. While some are fairly close together, a future major junction between Swift routes in Lynnwood currently has its stations a quarter-mile apart. The Swift Orange Line will intersect with the Blue Line at 196th Street and Highway 99, but the northbound platform is at 200th Street, requiring an unpleasant walk for transferring riders.

The stations concept would not be limited to consolidating pairs, but also opening up opportunities to add infill stations. A set of four infill stations were opened by 2011 and a fifth was added at Edmonds Community College in 2016, setting a precedent for CT. The spacing between stations on the Blue Line has been kept to about a mile since the first set were added, but there are still gaps of 1.5 miles between 216th and 238th streets and Crossroads (196th) and Cherry Hill (176th).

The second concept would add limited-stop (or skip-stop) trips into the schedule during peak periods between high-ridership stops. CT is looking to improve travel times, and the corridor would be able to handle some level of express service without running into capacity issues. Alternatively, the third concept proposes short-turn trips (already employed by Metro and other agencies), which would bring higher frequency to the southern half of the Blue Line, which has higher ridership over a shorter distance.

While adding either to the Blue Line could introduce a more confusing schedule for riders and undermine the simplicity associated with BRT, the time savings would be hugely beneficial. The Blue Line will be over 16 miles long after the Shoreline extension opens, which would bring schedule reliability issues that are already seen today with bunching on the corridor.

The Blue Line survey runs until February 27 and will be used during planning of the extension. The extension to Shoreline North/NE 185th Station will open in 2024.

99 Replies to “Community Transit studies connections from Swift to Link at 185th Street Station”

    1. Like to Mountlake Terrace? I could see that. A short hop on I-5 would get the E-Line from 205th street to MountLake Terrace TC pretty quick.

      1. I don’t think the on ramp from 205th to Northbound I-5 allows you to exit at mountlake terrace, but if it does then you are right. If it doesn’t then the bus has to detour around Lake Ballinger, or go under I-5 and go north somehow.. maybe along Gateway Blvd. Anyway I don’t think it’s as easy as a quick hop on I-5.

      2. They changed the northbound configuration of that ramp a long time ago. Too much weaving for all the cars.

        The route from NE 205th St. is to follow it through the traffic light at 15th Ave NE by turning left at the light, then continuing east until 56th Ave W.

        Turning left there, following it up to 236 St. SW., and again turning left to backtrack to the transit center.

        They left the southbound weave in place, so that’s still a direct shot.

      3. The problem with running the Aurora Rapidride to Mountlake Terrace is that it’s a freeway stop in the left lanes with no turnaround. So, the northbound bus exits to the MLT freeway station, drops off passengers, and realistically needs to go all the way to the Lynnwood HOV exit to turnaround. I’m guessing that exceeds Metro’s service budget, unless CT chips in for it.

      4. I was talking about Mountlake Terrace TC, not the freeway station. But of course that won’t work if there isn’t a good northbound path. Bummer that the I-5 ramp doesn’t make it easy like it does southbound.

    2. Indeed why not? Figure out which is quicker to the lightrail: extending the E from Aurora Village along what they show as Alternative B, or extending the E to Mountlake Terrace station – and then do that.

      Then take the Swift line to either Alternative A or C.

      My preference is A. C seems like an out of the way detour that would depress me if I was on that bus, and especially so if there were traffic on 175th that caused a delay.

    3. My guess is it wouldn’t be worth it. Sending Swift to 185th makes sense because Seattle is to the south, and the suburbs are to the north. There are a lot of people who are going from a Seattle Link station (downtown, UW, Northgate) to some place on SR 99, close to the county border. Thus they will spend a small amount of money, but get plenty of extra riders.

      But the opposite isn’t true. There aren’t as many people trying to get from Lynnwood (by far the most popular destination to the north) to say, 175th and Aurora. Since it is likely that Metro will have a bus that connects the 185th station with 175th and Aurora, they will get there that way. The same is true for 155th, 145th, 130th, etc. The only problem is getting from Lynnwood to say, 165th and Aurora. There just won’t be that many people doing that, and they will have to take the train, and two buses (the last one being the frequent E).

  1. Is there an issue with a Shoreline resident using Swift while making a trip inside King County? How would the fares and Orca work?

    1. The regular Swift fare would apply. It’s not a King County Metro bus, so you don’t pay a King County Metro fare. It’s just like taking Pierce Transit route 500 within Federal Way. Even if you never enter Pierce County, you still pay the Pierce Transit fare because it’s a Pierce Transit bus.

      If paying cash, there is no transfer. If paying with ORCA, then the fare paid for the first bus can transfer, even between transit agencies.

    2. What would be the problem? CT 105, PT 500, ST 574 all allow support trips within the non-core county. If you pay by ORCA it’s no different than taking Metro and you get a transfer discount. The only downside is if you pay cash you can’t get a transfer to Metro or Link.

      1. It’s a valid question any time an operator has a very frequent route outside of their district. The answer can be different for all sorts of reasons. There are plenty of examples of how things were resolved differently in various situations anywhere there are multiple operators in a metro area. There isn’t a standard answer. Consider too that the situation is usually treated differently when a single stop is barely outside of a district versus multiple stops more than a half-mile from the border.

        Sometimes the fare is higher. Sometimes an outside subsidy is arranged. Sometimes nothing happens. Sometimes the operator isn’t allowing any riders to get on or off except at that one stop. Sometimes inbound people can only get off (but not on) and outbound people can only get on (but not off).

        This is why I merely ask the question! I really don’t have a recommendation!

      2. For example, trips on CT to Downtown Seattle are priced with commuter fares $1.75 more than those on local buses.

    3. “Is there an issue with a Shoreline resident using Swift while making a trip inside King County? ”

      That’s an excellent point. I think many of the posters focused in on the fare/Orca question that you followed up with instead. As a resident living in the CT district who pays the 1.2% sales taxes that support the transit agency, I would definitely have an issue with exactly the scenario you’ve referenced. CT is not a regional transit agency like Sound Transit is and, as such, I would hope that they would engage in an interlocal agreement with King County Metro for some sort of cost-sharing arrangement for the operational costs not covered by fares for the regular ridership that appears to be solely within King County. (One big caveat. Of course I’m not concerned about the occasional rider here. We all do that when visiting other regions, other cities, other states, etc. for any number of reasons. Hence, my use of the words “regular ridership” above. I suppose I could’ve thrown in the modifier “frequent” as well to clear up any doubts as to my intended meaning.)

      1. My understanding is that the idea of sending the bus to 185th came from Metro. Either there is some sort of revenue sharing agreement, or CT hopes they will make it up with fare revenue. That isn’t a crazy idea, given the relatively short distance, and likely large increase in ridership. I think it will drive decisions like this one, though. I doubt CT is interested in providing a lot of value for King County — they just want a way to provide a nice service for those in Snohomish County who travel across the border, while picking up some extra fares.

        Even ending at Aurora Village (in King County) is similar. I’m sure there are folks who live around there who ride the bus north (e. g. to Edmonds Community College). In the long run, if ridership is dominated by King County riders, but not enough to make for the extra cost, CT could always ask for a little money from Metro.

      2. Don’t wait for the interlocal agreement. That’s how we got this ridiculous Green Swift that ends in Canyon Park instead of going a couple extra miles to Bothell and all the transit connections there. Service first, interlocal agreements later.

      3. Three stops? You’re worried about three low-volume stops? The line is extended to 185th to connect Snohomish County residents to Link. That’s a significant benefit. If CT didn’t think it was worth it it would terminate at the county border. It’s not within King County’s top twenty priorities so don’t expect King County to pay for it. The 500 has more stops in south Federal Way than Swift would have between the border and the station. As for not letting people on in between, when has that ever happened here? The 6 used to terminate in Snohomish County before the Aurora Village P&R was built; it charged a regular Metro fare, and it didn’t prohibit Snohomish residents from getting on and off. The 347 has stops in Mountlake Terrace, and for a time it went all the way to the Lynnwood P&R. The fare will be Swift’s regular fare of course.

      4. The reason Swift Green terminates in Canyon Park is CT didn’t have enough money to continue it to UW Bothell. It’s a stated goal of CT’s to extend it to UW Bothell as soon as it can. It’s not about King County funding or interlocal agreements. The purpose of the extension is so that Snohomish County residents can access UW Bothell and north Bothell residents can access downtown Bothell without waiting an hour or finding the 105 has stopped running. The 105 also has multiple stops in King County and doesn’t prohibit people from traveling between them. And it’s funded by Community Transit, because they’re the residential area trying to get to the city center and university.

      5. “In the long run, if ridership is dominated by King County riders, but not enough to make for the extra cost, CT could always ask for a little money from Metro.”

        Agreed. And they should.

        Mike Orr’s response indicates to me that he skipped over that key distinction. What PT route 500 does or doesn’t do in Federal Way isn’t particularly relevant to the discussion at hand, nor to my concerns (as a CT district taxpayer) regarding CT’s limited funding and its current capital needs. As Ross B has stated, the ask came from King County Metro. Yes, no one is debating the benefit to SW SnoCo current and potential transit users to get access to Link at 185th. Of course Swift could simply provide that service with a straight shot extension to the new Link station there without any additional stops in King County. Obviously, as has been previously noted, CT is considering picking up some additional fare revenue along the way. What remains to be seen is that by doing so will there be some substantial regular ridership along that portion that involves solely King County trips. If that indeed turns out to be the case, then King County Metro should certainly be chipping in for that.

      6. Giving away bus service outside of a district is like getting freebies from a bartender. If done in small quantities, it’s good for the overall business because it keeps other patrons spending money at the bar. If it involves a big cost (like several dozen bus trips every day taking 10-15 minutes more per round trip ) and causes the loss of hundreds of patrons, it needs to be discussed and maybe remedied.

      7. “As Ross B has stated, the ask came from King County Metro.”

        I didn’t even understand that statement. Why would Metro ask CT to go to 185th, and why would CT pay attention to it? It doesn’t require Metro to point out that going to 185th or Mountlake Terrace Station would be a major benefit to Swift. I’ve been repeatedly frustrated that the 512 doesn’t connect to Swift Blue south of Everett Station, and it doesn’t connect to Swift Green at all. That makes it “so near and yet so far” between Lynnwood TC or MT TC and 99. I used to blame it on I-5, but when I saw that the Interurban went right to downtown Lynnwood I realized the original problem was Highway 99 for bypassing downtown Lynnwood. Swift follows 99 so it suffers from this. The only mitigation is to have it connect to Link at the southern end, either at 185th or Mountlake Terrace. 185th is closer, has Fred Meyer on the way, is more in-direction for north-south trips, and it can have an in-direction transfer to the E at 192nd. I knew that long before Metro said anything, as I’ve been drawing Lynnwood Link restructure maps for years and Alternative A was my conclusion. If an amateur can realize people want to transfer between Link and Highway 99 at the southern end, CT can realize it too without Metro telling it the obvious.

      8. intercounty service should and is cooperative. the concept of Swift extending to the NE 185th Street Link station came from a Metro planner. it was not an ask. the concept was for CT riders to reach Link efficiently. ideas and riders go back and forth. today, Metro Route 347 provides coverage in Mountlake Terrace; CT provides layover. CT provides service in the King County portion of Bothell. CT routes now lay in a Metro AVTC. before fall 2003, former Route 317 extended to Edmonds and former Route 377 extended to the Lynnwood TC.

        CT and ST are considering truncation at Northgate; the agencies cooperate.

        with ORCA, interagency transfers are free. the pennies are allocated in the backroom; it is meant to be seamless to the rider.

      9. “the concept of Swift extending to the NE 185th Street Link station came from a Metro planner. it was not an ask.”

        That’s an oxymoronic assertion. I remember when this idea came up at a CT board meeting. It was an implicit ask coming from King County Metro. CT has been on board with the idea since and is now trying to figure out the best path forward. Of course the various transit agencies should coordinate their service planning strategies; that should be considered a given. That doesn’t necessarily mean that an interlocal agreement or MoU or other such cooperative agreement isn’t called for. As poster RDPence stated earlier, “Swift exists to serve Snohomish County riders.”.
        That priority needs to be kept in mind when it comes to the funding equity issue. King County Metro can chip in some money here if there is indeed significant ridership added as a result of trip pairs solely within King County and the fare revenue is insufficient to cover the additional operational costs.

      10. So Swift’s core riders don’t want to access Link at the south end and it’s only Metro’s begging that’s making it happen? That’s absurd. All the transit agencies are reorganizing their bus routes to be feeders to Link stations.

        If you’re so concerned about Swift not having free-riders in King County, there’s a simple solution: send Swift to Mountlake Terrace Station instead. That would incidentally connect Edmonds to MT, and Edmonds CC to MT.

      11. “So Swift’s core riders don’t want to access Link at the south end and it’s only Metro’s begging that’s making it happen?”

        No I didn’t say that. What’s absurd is you drawing that conclusion from what I actually did say.

        What I’m concerned about is CT district tax dollars being used to fund King County EXCLUSIVE transit trips on Swift service. King County Metro can step up to the plate and do the right thing by chipping in for the increase in operational costs (if indeed it’s warranted based on the ridership data).

        I think this is a reasonable position to take. If KCM doesn’t want to play ball, then just send Swift directly to whichever Link station is fastest.

      12. Are you similarly concerned about the 105’s stops in Bothell? The 500’s stops in Federal Way? The 512’s stops at 145th and 45th? Were you concerned when East King was paying for Judkins Park Station? When the 347 or whatever its predecessor was called stopped in Lynnwood? The issue is whether the extension sufficiently benefits the paying district, and that’s for the district to decide. The extension would cost like 1% of the line’s budget, the intermediate stations are infinitesimal compared to the line’s total number of stations, the number of people riding it wholly within Shoreline would be tiny, and every King County butt on an empty Swift seat in a bus that’s running anyway is additional revenue for CT. It’s not like Swift is so full it doesn’t have three or four empty seats for those Shoreline riders.

      13. “the concept of Swift extending to the NE 185th Street Link station came from a Metro planner. it was not an ask.”

        That’s an oxymoronic assertion.

        No it’s not. It makes perfect sense to me. People who work at agencies get busy. They don’t notice everything. I would assume that Community Transit has a lot fewer planners than Metro. So someone at Metro — presumably mulling over the north end of King County — thinks “Hmmm, if I worked for Sound Transit, I would send the Swift line to 185th. I’ll suggest it the next time we get together”. Now maybe someone at Community Transit said “Duh, of course, we’ve already been talking about it at the water cooler”, or maybe they said “Hmmm, that does sound like a good idea, I’ll get back to you.”. The point is, it wasn’t an “ask”, it was more of a suggestion.

        Serving stops like 192nd, in contrast, are far more likely to be an “ask”.

        Anyhow, the point being, the latter would quite likely involve a little money changing hands, since most of the park and ride users (which make up the bulk of 192nd riders) have no interest in going to Snohomish County. In contrast, a couple connecting stops (on Aurora at 200th and 185th) would not. There are some King County people who would walk to the bus stop and ride solely within King County, but my guess is, the bulk of the riders would be transferring from another bus. In almost all cases, that would mean they are headed to Snohomish County. It wouldn’t make sense, because every connecting bus goes by a station. You can see it in the long range plan, or just imagine various futuristic bus lines. The buses that will cross Aurora at 200th or 185th will also directly serve a station. Thus the only reason to transfer to Swift is if you are headed to Snohomish County.

  2. I think having some buses skipping stops on a BRT line like Swift is a bad idea if all of the buses operate in a bus-only lane on the curb. Having a bus skip a rider at a bus stop is terrible optics for an operator! Plus, new trip patterns will occur when Lynnwood Link opens in 2024 (just three more years) so rider loads will shift again once this happens; 2021 is not the right time to introduce new complexities to bus operations and routing. If different service plans are introduced, then a different color should be added or the route should have a new route number. Finally, I think a similar problem could occur if some trips don’t go all the way to the end.

    1. Making a bus that skips stops for faster service, wait isn’t that what Swift itself is? The 101 runs along most of its route already.

      How about (particularly, unlike a Swift Express, this has actual relevance to Link) we spur the 101 to Lynnwood City Center at 196th? Long haul 101 riders will be highly inconvenienced, but these riders are better served by Swift anyway. And riders on 99 who aren’t too far from 196th street, but still too far to walk, can have a bus to Link in Lynnwood.

      1. I rarely visit Snohomish County so I can’t get int the details of what works best. Regardless, I would get confused if bus A with local stops is overlaid with a limited-stop service given a special color — and the that limited-stop operations then stops at different places even though just one color and label is used. Exactly how confusing does CT want to make things? Won’t that frustrate and anger riders?

        Lynnwood City Center Station is only about a mile from SR 99 and will have Link every 3-5 minutes and 405 BRT at every 10-15 minutes on top of other local and express services across the County. I like an approach of “most routes lead to Lynnwood City Center Station”. If routes need to serve corridors that run parallel to the station, I would suggest that the routing circle back to Lynnwood like a pinwheel.

        I’m generally a fan of connecting to Link as much as is reasonable.

      2. the E Line is much more frequent than CT Route 101, so there would be more instances of Swift being delayed; it may as well stop at all E Line stops. ST3 Stride will face the same issue along SR-522. on both arterial highways, the general purpose lanes are often jammed.

      3. Part of Swift’s brand is that all buses serve all stops. The stops themselves are widely spaced so it’s faster than a local bus but slower than an express. But its all-day frequency partly compensates for not being an express. It’s like a subway that serves several selected stops — always. There are subways with express overlays, short runs, and complex branches, but most of them don’t. And this isn’t NYC where comprehensive transit is the norm and express subways are a welcome addition: Snohomish County is just trying to establish an initial subway-like network in a community that has never had it. So making the Swift brand more complex may have negative as well as positive consequences.

        That said, there may be room for a “Swift Express” brand that skips some stations. Or if there’s a baseline frequency that serves all stations, then there could be extra runs on top of it which skip some. As long as it sticks to the promise of “never more than a 10-minute wait for a full-service bus”. (I’m assuming a 10-minute baseline peak hours. Off-peak it goes down to 20 minutes, but that’s not when express runs are relevant.)

      4. Making a bus that skips stops for faster service, wait isn’t that what Swift itself is?

        Yes, but you can make the case that doing so is a bad idea. In other words, the 101 shouldn’t exist. Service on the 101 should go into Swift, and Swift should make more stops (about 300-600 meters apart). Alon Levy made this point while discussing the Queens bus redesign (https://pedestrianobservations.com/2019/12/31/queens-bus-redesign/#comment-70537).

        If you look up a ways, you can see a similar thread. I made the point that if the regular bus is so full that it is running constantly, then an express makes sense (https://pedestrianobservations.com/2019/12/31/queens-bus-redesign/#comment-70537). Obviously that isn’t the case with the 101.

        All that being said, this is different. This isn’t a case where one bus (the 101) is operating on pretty much the exact same line as another (Swift). This is simply an overlap between two agencies that would occur regardless. Some users would gain from adding the stops, but (so far as I know) there would be no system savings from having Swift making all the stops.

        So while Al raises a good point, I don’t feel that Swift has to make all the stops. It is probably ideal, but since we are talking about a Snohomish County express bus making stops in King County, what is ideal for King County riders is not worth fighting for. The key, in my opinion, is that we have good transfers.

      5. the E Line is much more frequent than CT Route 101, so there would be more instances of Swift being delayed; it may as well stop at all E Line stops.

        Good point, although we are only talking about three stops (if the bus turns on 185th). Oh, and southbound the Swift wouldn’t wait for the E (it would be in the turn lane) which means two bus stops. I wonder how often the Swift bus would be delayed? Someone want to do the math (assuming random timetables, 10 minute frequency, and some variable for the amount of time spent at each bus stop).

        Regardless, this strengthens the case for stopping (since the bus might be stuck behind the other one anyway).

      6. “the 101 shouldn’t exist. Service on the 101 should go into Swift, and Swift should make more stops (about 300-600 meters apart).”

        That would water down Swift like RapidRide. We need Swift in King County, not RapidRide in Snohomish County. Swift has more riders than the 101, because there are more people going to/from the multifamily areas and college and shopping centers than the in-between places. The purpose of Swift is to have a fast way to travel from one part of 99 to another. If you give it many more stops it will lose that advantage.

        “If you look up a ways, you can see a similar thread. I made the point that if the regular bus is so full that it is running constantly, then an express makes sense”

        So only people who are on a packed bus route should have an option competitive with driving? We need to make fast transit the norm, not an option for a lucky few. Especially when those areas have the highest housing costs, partly because they have superior transit.

      7. Oh I have no problems with a limited stop bus in concept. (Side note: Our region confuses limited-stop buses and express buses and we shouldn’t; 7X and 9X should be 7L and 9L.)

        My issue is simply that spending money to build an expensive and visible Swift station and then have buses skip it is bad optics. It’s similar to standing on a light rail train platform and having an in-service train fly by without stopping. There may be good reasons for it, but it does look bad!

    2. Los Angeles uses skip stop services on Wilshire Blvd. I just wish that there was a good map to show where the two services share a stop.

    3. @Al S: the sole purpose of Swift is to speed up service. It’s closest thing to BRT we have in the state because of its express features and 100% off-board payment. Though I agree that riding patterns will likely shift with the arrival of Link 2024, continuous and uninterrupted service along Hwy 99 will still be needed. Just like along Aurora Ave, Rainier Ave or Pacific Hwy, there will still be strong demand from customers who need to solely travel along a portion of a corridor rather than transferring to a regional service at the end of the line.

      1. Express features is not really BRT. 100% off-board payment definitely is, but if anything, the excessively wide stop spacing (so wide you have another, extremely infrequent bus picking up the missing stops) is its biggest failing. This failure leads to frequency that is weak compared to many buses in Seattle.

      2. Its frequency is weak because it’s in Snohomish County, which has frightfully low density and is only willing to pay a little taxes for transit, unless it’s for express buses to downtown or Link.

      3. “…and is only willing to pay a little taxes for transit,…”

        That’s certainly a debatable assertion. Snohomish County residents who are in both the CT district and the ST district pay 2.6% of our ~10.2 to 10.5% sales tax to support transit services. That’s roughly 25% of our sales tax dollars being dedicated to transit funding. (Of course we also pay MVET and property taxes to fund Sound Transit’s enterprise.)

    4. “Having a bus skip a rider at a bus stop is terrible optics for an operator!”

      Some of the confusion can be alleviated with distinct branding. Nobody expects Swift to serve all the 101 stops. The E, 5, 26, and 28 have different stop patterns on Aurora. The problem isn’t having multiple distinct services on the same street; it’s making the brands distinct enough that people don’t expect one route to do the other. So Swift could have “Swift Express” or “Swift X” or “SuperSwift” or “Swifter” or something. Just don’t call them plain Swift.

    5. The changes, if adopted, would take place in 2024, not 2021. The other trunk of the county’s transit system (the I-5 corridor) already operates on a much larger skip-stop pattern, so it wouldn’t affect the optics all that much.

  3. Use route B to keep the connection to all the other local buses, but with one caveat – don’t actually pull into the station, but stop on the street right next to it. The bus bays are pretty close to the street, so the walk across the street to catch the northbound bus is no big deal.

    1. That merits a close look, Donde. I use the Aurora Village TC regularly. There’s a traffic light at the exit drive, for safe ped crossing, and traffic on S. 200th is modest.

      Alternative B is definitely the preferred choice, unless CT and Metro choose to abandon the TC altogether and route all those existing local routes to a Link station.

      1. Alternative A is faster than B or C, while connecting better to other buses. B only serves the transit center, while A would enable a stop at Aurora and 185th, thus connecting to the 348 (which serves Richmond Beach). This is a connection that doesn’t exist now, and while a transfer at the train station would be better, it would still delay riders around 10 minutes over a simple transfer on Aurora. The same is true for same direction transfers from the E to Swift. Alternative B is simply inferior for all bus transfers, while C is significantly slower in getting to Link.

    2. I’ve been uncertain about Aurora Village, but mostly I’ve thought Alternative A is best. Aurora Village is relevant to Shoreline residents, not so much to Snohomish residents. Lynnwood has a Costco on 99; Alderwood Mall is available, etc.

      The most important thing is a same-station stop for transferring between the E and Swift for trips like 85th to Edmonds CC.

      1. “Aurora Village is relevant to Shoreline residents, not so much to Snohomish residents.”

        Speaking as an Edmonds resident, I have to push back strongly against your your assertion above. Frankly, I think it’s just nonsense. What exactly are you basing it on? I’ve lived in Edmonds for over 16 years now and I can tell you for certain that many residents in this area make frequent purchases at the retailers now at the former Aurora Village site.

      2. In terms of retail, it seems like a stop at 200th and Aurora is just as good as actually serving the transit center.

      3. I’m also an Edmonds resident, in the Bowl (downtown) and Aurora Village Costco is a fast trip on SR104, especially compared to Lynnwood Costco.

        The AV Costco / Home Depot complex is oriented to the TC. The development turns its back to Aurora Ave. Forcing bus riders on and off on Aurora means walking uphill on a narrow sidewalk, and having to cross Aurora Avenue. This is just nuts.

      4. My impression may be wrong because I don’t know many people in Edmonds. I was going by my memory of what shops were remaining in Aurora Village and how big a general draw they would be. And when I stayed in Mountlake Terrace part time, I occasionally went to the Lynnwood Costco, and it seemed like it would be easy enough to get to.

      5. Forcing bus riders on and off on Aurora means walking uphill on a narrow sidewalk, and having to cross Aurora Avenue.

        Fair enough, except that the number of Costco and Home Depot riders are relatively small, and it only a couple of extra minutes of walking (according to Google). There will be way more riders making a transfer from another bus, or transferring from Link. In both cases, the best option is A. It is the fastest way to Link, and the one that connects best to other buses.

      6. @Mike Orr
        Well, now you “know” two more Edmonds residents and we are both telling you that your “impression” is not based on the reality of the situation.

      7. Ross, I wasn’t addressing only riders destined to/from Costco and Home Depot! I am also addressing all the other riders transferring to/from buses at AVTC, riders you want to send trudging up and down 200th to bus stops on Aurora.

      8. I am also addressing all the other riders transferring to/from buses at AVTC, riders you want to send trudging up and down 200th to bus stops on Aurora.

        But you are ignoring where those buses are going. The most important bus to bus connection (by far) is with the E Line. Being able to transfer from the exact same stop to go the same direction is much better then spending a lot of extra time going back and forth to the transit center. It also reduces the chances of a missed connection. Think about this common scenario — you are on Swift, heading south. You reach 200th, and the light is green. But instead of going through the intersection (in a bus lane) the bus works its way over to the turn lane and waits. Eventually you get the left turn arrow. While staring out the window, you can see the E, just pulling out of the transit center. You’ve lost the connection, and will wait for almost ten minutes.

        The 331 will cross at 200th. If you are west of Aurora, then transferring at Aurora is better. Like the E to Swift rider, you avoid going back and forth to the transit center, and reduce the possibility of missing your connection. If you are to the east, it makes no difference — the transfer at Aurora is just as good.

        For the 130, you are better off with a Swift bus stop further north (at 244th/205th), to minimize backtracking. That seems like a worthy stop just for access to apartments and businesses. You can also just add a southbound stop for the 130 at 200th (just east of Aurora), since northbound the bus connection would be fine as is. At worse, you would have a five minute walk (and that is only for the southbound bus 130).

        The only bus that would involve an awkward transfer is the 346. But even then, it is merely a five minute walk (from the transit center to Aurora). If there are a lot of people making that transfer, then Swift could add a stop at Meridian and 185th.

        Then you have the 348, which you seem to be ignoring. It doesn’t not go to the AVTC, nor will it ever go to the ATVC. A stop at 185th and Aurora would dramatically improve the transfer time, while reducing the chance of missing a transfer.

        The most important transfer is with Link. Alternative A is significantly faster than the other options. It avoids traffic by staying in the HOV lanes for longer, while avoiding turns for the times when traffic isn’t an issue.

        Alternative A is faster and has the best transfers. The only reason to go to Aurora Village is to serve Aurora Village. Serving the area has value, but isn’t worth it. Community Transit should not spend extra money delaying all the people headed to Link (or another bus) just to minimize the walk over there.

  4. Meridian backs up southbound during the morning commute and is a popular detour if I5 is a parking lot. Alt B probably wouldn’t be as Swift as Alt A. (See what I did there?)

  5. For what it’s worth my map app says it takes 9 minutes to go from the Aurora Village Transit Center to Mountlake Terrace Transit Center, and 5 minutes using Option B to go from the Aurora Village Transit center to Link at 185th.

    it’s also a five minute ride from the shoreline park and ride on 99 to Link at 185th.

  6. option A is the most straight forward and probably the best. options A and C should add stop pairs at Meridian Avenue North for transfers points with Route 346 or its successor. option C is clearly the worst, as it would be both the slowest and least reliable, encountering the most traffic delay on NE 175th Street approaching both I-5 in both directions and SR-99 westbound. revised Route 348, or its successor will connect the Link station with the Shoreline library. Please note that the Shoreline plans for BAT lanes are not funded and would take costly right of way. I would not count on them soon, if ever. but the good news is the NE 185th Street does not feed an I-5 interchange, so will not become congested, as NE 175th and 145th streets and Northgate Way do and will forever.

    1. I agree with your assessment; option A seems like the way to go. I need to give it some more thought and will look at the details again, but most likely this is the option I will voice my support for on the CT survey.

  7. How relevant is the Aurora Village TC going to be as a regional, inter-county bus hub, after Lynnwood Link? Is serving Aurora Village via Highway 99 sufficient for the Village “as a destination?”

    My take on this: Swift follows option A, and the E either stops where it does now or if possible is extended to MLT Link station via the Gateway development (but only IF there enough busses and drivers to do this and maintain the current frequency!). That way same direction transfers between E and Swift can happen without having to cross Highway 99 and without having to divert to the light rail stations or the Aurora Village TC. And I don’t like the area of short turn runs at all. If you want/need a frequent local feeder to Link, then run a frequent local feeder to Link.

    1. You make a good point, B! A transit center is created to serve a particular layout for a particular era in time, and a new high-frequency light rail line that stops a mile away but skips the transit center can render that transit center much more useless.

      I’ve noticed that many transit riders generally dislike any change that disrupts their comfortable understanding of a route structure. One only has to point to how Northgate TC will become much less relevant when Lynnwood Link opens and its function as a major regional shopping district fades.

      I think that it is still important to have “layover centers“ so drivers can safely take breaks and can get buses back on schedule regardless of the proximity of a light rail line.

      We are now entering the transitional era of ST2 Link. It’s our time to revisit structures. The question becomes to what changes should be made before opening day, versus what changes to make once light rail opens. We will see adjustments for the next several years, and things will stabilize for the most part after that.

    2. Aurora Village was more relevant when it was bigger. Now it’s just Costco and a few hang-on stores and a P&R. Snohomish residents can go to Costco in Lynnwood. Shoreline/North Seattle residents have to go all the way to SODO, which is an hour or more away given the transfer waits and unreliability. The regional hubs were chosen with Link: Mountlake Terrace and 185th. At one point Shoreline was looking at moving the Aurora Village Transit Center and Link station to 192nd & Aurora but that option died. That would have separated the transit center from the shopping center, so it’s not like the governments think the shopping center is regionally essential.

      The best plan for Swift is option A (or maybe C with reservations), bypassing Aurora Village. The E should continue on its existing route to Aurora Village, bypassing the station. Maybe the E can be extended south on Meridian to 185th Station, or northeast to Mountlake Terrace Station. But it should still keep its existing routing to Aurora Village.

  8. Eeeexactly.

    What’s gonna happen to Aurora Village is a key factor in how to route the Blue Line (Swift) . All of the current peak routes that currently operate from AVTC will be eliminated with Link 2024 and the 2 remaining local routes should ideally serve 185th. That leaves the E-line, which I hope Metro will exercise common sense and route it to 185th Station just as CT is doing with the Blue Line.

  9. I suggest picking A or C for the S/E-bound portion of the route, and B for the N/W-bound portion. That serves all the P&R and TC stops without crossing oncoming traffic lanes.

  10. I would suggest that CT and Metro make a joint decision on routing between AVTC and Shoreline North/ 185th Station. What would seem to be most effective is for RapidRide E to follow the Alt B routing and for Swift to follow Alt A or Alt C, depending on where riders most need to go. That would also enable an in-direction transfer at 192nd between Swift and RapidRide at the same stop.

    1. Just select the best routing between AVTC and 185th Link for both Swift and E Line. These are express / trunk lines and shouldn’t be making any stops in between.

      1. Define “best” please.

        If it still serves Aurora Village TC then it means making a U turn and backtracking if you send it back to Aurora.

        Sending it east on 200th means putting it on a lesser street of some sort or other to get south.

      2. So your saying that Swift shouldn’t make any stops in King County? I thought you wanted them to stop at Aurora Village?

      3. Swift is limited-stop, not express. It stops every mile. So if there’s a signficant distance between the county border and the station, it would have an intermediate stop. 192nd & Aurora seems like a good stop even if it’s within a mile, for same-direction transfers to/from the E, the existing P&R, and potential additional stop-area amenities or routes.

        The E is an enhanced local route with no overlay, so it has to stop every 1/2 mile.

      4. Swift exists to serve Snohomish County riders. In this case, I believe Swift riders want to get to AVTC and Link at 185th. They are not interested in intermediate destinations in between. Riders in between AVTC and Link/185th are served by KCMetro. The most convenient, direct and logical route between AVTC and Link/185th St. is 200th and Meridian.

      5. Snohomish riders are also taking the E to 155th, 130th, 105th, 85th, and 46th. There are shopping centers at 155th and 100th, 130th is growing and will have more someday, a jiu-jitsu school at 95th (you might want a certain instructor), 85th is the way to Greenwood, and 46th is the way to Ballard.

        Whether there should be stop(s) between the county border and 185th Station depends on how important the in-between destinations are to Snohomish riders. I could see Fred Meyer as being a draw. The point is you need to study the trip patterns and Edmonds/MT residents’ priorities, not dismiss them blindly as “no non-station stops outside the county” or “nobody goes there”.

      6. 200th and Meridian wouldn’t be bad; it would still get to 185th Station within a few minutes. If Aurora Village is more important to more riders than 185th & Aurora, then that makes the case for Alternative C stronger. Hopefully the Swift station would be on 200th rather than detouring into the P&R.

      7. Swift riders want to get to AVTC

        Why? What is such an attraction at the Aurora Village Transit Center? Do you really think that is worth a slower trip to Link, and making all the bus connections worse?

      8. When I watch Swift riders alight at AVTC, they go in all directions, including to other platforms to transfer to other CT and Metro routes, including E line. Swift riders destined farther south on Aurora, someone listed, they just hop on the E line. I can’t grasp all the hate about the AVTC actually functioning as a Transit Center (think of that as shorthand for Transfer Center)

      9. When I watch Swift riders alight at AVTC, they go in all directions, including to other platforms to transfer to other CT and Metro routes, including E line.

        As I wrote up above, those making a transfer to another bus would be much better off with alternative A (https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/02/18/community-transit-studies-connections-from-swift-to-link-at-185th-street-station/#comment-842416).

        If riders are going in all directions, that means some of those riders are heading west. Thus having a stop to the west (closer to Aurora) would benefit those riders.

      10. “I can’t grasp all the hate about the AVTC actually functioning as a Transit Center”

        It’s not hate for Aurora Village, it’s not wanting to miss the opportunity for the shortest 99-to-Link transfer at 185th and the best Swift+E transfer at 192nd. (Or anywhere where Swift isn’t turning — we’ve all dealt with transfers that are kitty-corner from each other and require crossing two intersections). The largest number of Swift riders at the county border will be transferring to Link; the second-largest will be transferring to the E; and the third-largest will be walking to Aurora Village (or Sky Nursery, Fred Meyer, the ice arena, etc). So these should be the priorities in Swift routing.

  11. Best solution is a loop, with Alternative A going southbound, and Alternative B going northbound. This way, everything is covered and nothing is lost.

    1. I don’t see much point in that. Assume that you are at Meridian and 200th, and they add a stop. You want to get to downtown Seattle. Swift is useless to you — the bus only goes northbound. Likewise, if you are at Aurora and 185th; you can’t get home.

      There is nothing wrong with a live loop, but a loop with a connector in the middle just won’t work.

      1. If we had Alternative A in both directions, the rider in your first example would be equally inconvenienced. The rider in the second example would take the E line northbound.

      2. If we had Alternative A in both directions, the rider in your first example would be equally inconvenienced.

        Yes, but we haven’t inconvenienced other riders in the process. The point is, serving some place one direction is not serving it.

        The rider in the second example would take the E line northbound.

        So, basically someone trying to get to 185th and Aurora from downtown would ignore Link? That is a major inconvenience. That is my point. You haven’t really served an area if you only go one direction in this case.

        Your loop proposal doesn’t actually benefit anyone. People gain one direction, and lose in the other. You might as well just stick with the best routing — the fastest route with the best connections — which is Alternative A.

        Again, loops have their place. They make sense as live loops, to avoid a layover. They can also work as coverage routes (especially as a live loop). Riders go the wrong direction initially, but then stay on the bus and eventually go the right way. At least they have service.

        But this isn’t a coverage route. Every bus stop added will be an existing bus stop. The bus won’t live loop, but layover at 185th. A loop just doesn’t make sense in this case.

  12. The Aurora Avenue alternatives would use an existing set of lanes added for the RapidRide E Line, but would have to merge into traffic to make its eastbound turn.

    That is true with every alternative. The turn on 200th involves leaving the bus lane on Aurora and then moving to the left lane, just like the other two alternatives.

    Meridian is a fairly quiet residential street with two lanes and on-street parking, and would not likely run into unfavorable traffic.

    That’s not really how traffic works. If you think you’ve found a “back way” then others will find it too. In other words, if you are at 185th and Meridian, and trying to get to 200th and Aurora, using Meridian won’t be faster, because otherwise, everyone else would do the same thing. There are no freeway ramps between 175th and the county line, so you have the same general traffic flow (from 175th and I-5 towards the north end of Aurora). Thus there is no traffic advantage to using Meridian. Furthermore, as you mentioned, 185th will have BAT lanes. So even if traffic along 185th is a bit worse, it will still be faster, for a bus.

    Alternate A also has fewer turns. It is obviously the fastest route.

    1. There isn’t much traffic on Meridian. I’ve taken the 346 and its predecessors occasionally for decades, and I’ve never seen even medium-sized traffic. Nothing like 65th & 25th NE where the 62 and 372 cross.

      1. There isn’t much traffic on Meridian.

        Yet others who regularly travel in the area disagree:

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/02/18/community-transit-studies-connections-from-swift-to-link-at-185th-street-station/#comment-842255

        The point is, when 185th is bad, Meridian is worse. Aurora is always better *for a bus*. You have fewer turns when there is no traffic (which is likely when you’ve ridden the bus) and more bus lanes when there is. (And that’s before shoreline adds bus lanes to 185th).

  13. I think the best alternative is A, and it is isn’t close. Alternative A is faster by quite a bit (for the reasons mentioned in my last comment). It just makes sense to use the BAT lanes and only make one turn.

    The challenge is figuring where to stop. I see the following as possibilities:

    200th and Aurora — This one is essential in my book. It would connect well with the E, as well any bus on 200th (currently the 331 and CT 130).

    192nd and Aurora — I think this is less important. This is primarily for the park and ride, and I just don’t see a lot of Park and Ride users heading north. I also think that it is highly likely that Metro will run a bus connecting the Park and Ride to the 185th station, and Park and Ride users tend to be primarily commute period users. The only reason I would add the stop is if meant that Metro could save service hours (by not running such a bus).

    185th and Aurora — This connects to buses from Richmond Beach. I see this as the second most important stop.

    185th and Meridian — Connects to a bus on Meridian (346). Right now the 346 ends at Aurora Village, an easy five minute walk from the stop(s) at 200th. I don’t see this stop as essential.

    Other stops along 185th — There would be some value, but I don’t see these as essential. They would be out of character for the bus route.

    I think the only two bus stops I would have are on Aurora, at 200th and 185th. Both should have plenty of riders, and provide good bus connections in the area.

    1. Your thoughts are exactly why I hope CT and MT collaborate closely on what the other is doing regarding routes serving 185th Station. If Metro is routing the E-line to 185th, then a stop at 185th & Aurora is crucial. If Metro is maintaining the status quo, then a stop at 192nd is crucial (not only for transfers but park & ride user’s wanting to access Link). Additionally, I agree that a stop at Meridian is not essential. In fact, it’s unnecessary because a transfer to route 346 could be made at 200th St or at AVTC.

      1. I definitely agree that the agencies need to work together, but I would make a few assumptions. I doubt very much that Metro will route the E to 185th. If Swift doesn’t stop at 192nd, then Metro will have something similar to the 301, except truncated at 185th. That means rush hour service, and that’s it.

        I think that is fine. The folks who park in that park and ride are overwhelmingly rush hour riders who go south in the morning and north in the evening. The rest of the day they can still get there. At worst it is long walk or involves waiting for one of the most frequent buses in the system. If anything, the most important thing is that the the E run at least as often as it does now.

        Metro could potentially save some money by letting Swift serve that stop, but otherwise, it is far more important to serve 185th and Aurora, just for Richmond Beach riders.

      2. Something has to serve Aurora Village, and the E is better positioned to do it than Swift. it makes sense to keep the E’s routing and have Swift go the opposite direction on Aurora and turn on 185th. Having the E turn on 185th cuts off King County from its own shopping center, and elderly people who ride to it, and there’s nothing comparable to it closer than Northgate.

      3. I can imagine the E going to 185th, I just don’t think it would be better. Aurora Village would be served by the 346, 101 and 331. It is also only a five minute walk to Aurora. Swift would have to make all the stops along Aurora, which means 200th, 192nd and 185th. The transfer between the E and Swift is a bit awkward, in that involves both buses turning, and the rider crossing the street. There is no overlap on Aurora, which means that folks north of 185th wanting to go south on Aurora have a two seat ride. For Aurora Village, this would be a relatively infrequent connection (unless they want to walk over to Aurora). The 331 becomes a lot less useful. Getting from the south end of Lake Ballinger to some place south on Aurora is a three seat ride. Same with the 130 and 101.

        Overall, I don’t think it is worth it. You gain a direct (frequent) connection between Aurora and Link. But there will be connections anyway, on several of the streets. It is quite likely that 145th, 150th, 155th 175th, 185th will all have connecting buses and that most of them will be frequent (10 minute frequency in the middle of the day). So the only thing that sending the E would do is provide a connection between Link and Aurora at 180th, 170th, 165th and places south of 145th. In all cases, though, the dynamic is different than Swift. The vast majority of people will be coming from the south (Seattle). With Swift, that means someone going the same basic direction (e. g. downtown Seattle to 185th, then north again on Aurora past the county border). With the E, it would mean someone backtracking. That is likely to happen for a few of these places, but not south of 145th. So, realistically, you are talking about providing a connection to 180th, 170th and 165th. Most of the development around Aurora is right on Aurora. For 180th, that means that lots of people will walk to 185th or 175th (since it is a five minute walk). The only significant gap then, is between 170th and 165th, and there really isn’t much there. Keep in mind, you can still get there, just not with a single bus from Link. I just don’t think it is worth the cost (to customers) to send the E to 185th for that.

        Oh, and that assumes that the area isn’t covered by some other bus. Metro, in their long range plan, has a frequent bus on Ballinger Way called the 1215. I could easily see a small modification to that route, where it turned on Aurora, then went on Aurora between 175th and 160th, then straight across to the college. That would mean pretty much every part of Aurora north of 145th would have a direct connection to Link. There are other ways to connect Link to Aurora, and I think they are better.

  14. FWIW I’m having an extended conversation with a CT planner soon and will raise some of these issues. This thread will undoubted be dead by then…alas.

    1. Threads don’t die; they just lose commentators after a few days and are later made read-only to protect them from one-off comments that nobody will be around to refute. Some old threads still contain valuable information and tradeoffs and are worthy as a long-term reference. We just don’t have a very good way to organize that information so people can find it again, but having it is better than not having it. You can give a link to a planner anytime and it will probably contain at least 80% of the relevant factors, missing just those that weren’t recognized until later.

      1. Thanks for the good reply, Mike. I meant “dead” in the sense that almost nobody will be checking this thread by then. But yes, I’ll come back and report what I learn, whatever seems relevant to this discussion.

    2. Nothing conclusive from my CT conversation, but it’s clear their emphasis now is planning for the Swift extension to 185th, since that route requires elaborate stations which require lead time to design and build.

      After that’s under control, then they can consider options for the local CT routes that now connect at AVTC. And one of those options will be to abandon AVTC entirely and restructure all those local routes to serve a Link station, which can function as mini transit centers, still providing transfer connections among multiple bus routes.

      There was mention of difficulty finding layover space for CT and ST buses to be truncated into Northgate Link station.

  15. Since Swift is the Long haul / express route, and 101 is the local route, shouldn’t Swift go with option A, which prioritizes the faster connection to Link, and then 101 can do option B, which is the coverage option ensuring riders still have a direct but less frequent way to get to AVTC.

    Most people want to get to the major job centers quickly: Swift to Link via Alt A. Others want local trips within Snohomish: 101 via option B. Since CT is already trying to serve “ridership” (SWIFT)and “coverage” (101) goals along Aurora with different routes, the same framework will work here.

    1. Yes. Alternative A is the fastest, which is why it is the best option. A single stop at 200th makes for a better connection to E than the transit center, and just as good for other buses. I would also add a stop at 185th, to minimize backtracking for Richmond Beach to Snohomish County riders, but that’s a judgement call.

      I would just send the 101 to AVTC. There is no reason to go further on the Alternative B route, since it is all very low density residential from there to the transit center. Snohomish County shouldn’t be providing coverage service for King County — Metro can do that just fine (with the 346). Those from Snohomish County going to Aurora Village can just take the 130, from Mountlake Terrace. The only reason for the 101 to be extended is if Metro pays them.

      1. Yeah this is probably the best strategy, RossB. Because 101 runs infrequently and there are two Snohomish stations for Link after 2024 so there will be multiple local CT routes going to Link anyway, I can’t see much attractiveness to use Route 101 to get to Link at Shoreline North Station. If a Route 101 extension is in the cards, I would suggest connecting to Mountlake Terrace Station instead.

    2. “shouldn’t Swift go with option A, which prioritizes the faster connection to Link, and then 101 can do option B,”

      Good point. There’s no reason the 101 can’t do option B. It doesn’t matter if it has the same routing as Swift between stations, only at stations.

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