With the Puget Sound region largely shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is a dramatic drop in public transit ridership across all areas of the region. Though Sound Transit was already one of the transit agencies that opted to temporarily reduce service starting this past Monday, those changes were relatively light on the ST Express side, with larger reductions for Sounder and Link (which maintained its Connect 2020 headway of 14 minutes). Fare collection was also suspended in an effort to reduce opportunities for the virus to transmit between passengers and operators.
Now, in response to further ridership declines totaling 83%, Sound Transit announced a new round of temporary service reductions to Sound Transit Express. Unlike previous round of cuts, which only affected certain ST Express routes operated by King County Metro and dropped select trips (route 541 being the only exception, which stopped running entirely), upcoming service reductions taking effect March 30 represent reductions across nearly every ST Express route, with multiple routes cancelled entirely. Some routes have cancelled trips, while others have entirely overhauled schedules, with frequencies reduced and travel times showing the gains of reduced traffic volumes while many people are staying home. Details after the jump.
Link Light Rail and Sounder will retain their current reduced service levels, with Link running every 14 minutes seven days per week, Sounder South remaining at 8 round trips, and Sounder North remaining at 2 round trips.
ST Express routes entirely cancelled. The following routes are not going to be operating at all:
- 541. Alternative service is available on route 544 with a transfer to route 542.
- 567. Alternative service is available on route 566, which also operates between Overlake, Bellevue, and Kent.
- 586. Riders will need to take route 590 into downtown Seattle, and transfer to Link Light Rail.
- 592. Riders from Lakewood have access to Sounder and route 594. Normally, route 594 does not operate in the peak direction while route 592 is operating, but the temporary schedule has new peak service on route 594 displacing lost service on route 592. Riders from DuPont have no alternative service available.
ST Express routes with reduced service. The following routes are still operating, but passengers will want to plan ahead and consult the schedule before heading out:
- 510. 9 trips are dropped, with remaining trips spaced very inconsistently between 10 and 40 minutes.
- 511. 7 trips are dropped, mostly in the evening, leaving service operating every 20 to 40 minutes.
- 512. 15 trips are dropped, leaving 30 minute gaps in the schedule.
- 513. 7 trips are dropped, leaving some consecutive trips more than an hour apart.
- 522. 13 trips are dropped, mostly affecting the peak period where service is normally more frequent than 15 minutes.
- 532. 13 trips are dropped, leaving service operating inconsistently between every 10 and 30 minutes.
- 535. 16 trips are dropped, leaving peak service running every 60 minutes. Off-peak, route 535 continues to run every 30 minutes with a few missing trips.
- 542. 8 trips are dropped, leaving peak service every 20 to 45 minutes, and off-peak service every 30 minutes.
- 544. Service is under a completely new schedule, running every 30 minutes in both directions during peak hours only.
- 545. 24 trips are dropped, mostly affecting peak service that previously operated at 15 minute headways or better.
- 550. 28 trips are dropped, mostly peak trips, with a few late morning and early evening trips.
- 555. 4 trips are dropped, leaving service mostly 30 to 70 minutes apart.
- 556. 2 trips are dropped, making headways 30 minutes or longer.
- 560. Operates under a new schedule running every hour all day, and weekend service dropped.
- 566. Operates under a new schedule, running every 30 minutes at best. Midday service terminating in Renton is no longer timed to transfer to route 560, requiring a 30 minute wait.
- 574. Operates on a new schedule, with service every 30 or 60 minutes seven days per week.
- 577. Operates on a new schedule. In coordination with route 578, service between Federal Way and Seattle operates every 15 minutes during peak periods, and every 30 minutes at other times and on weekends.
- 578. Operates on a new schedule, running every hour all day, seven days per week.
- 580. Operates on a new schedule, connecting to remaining Sounder trips.
- 590. Operates on a new schedule, coordinating with route 594 to have service between downtown Tacoma, Tacoma Dome Station, and Seattle operating every 10 minutes during peak.
- 594. Operates on a new schedule, with new peak service filling the gap left by the suspension of route 592. Service runs every 30 minutes all day, seven days per week.
- 595. A new schedule has just 3 trips per peak direction.
- 596. A new schedule has service connecting to a select number of remaining Sounder trips.
ST routes maintaining regular service are route 554 and Tacoma Link only.
Community Transit reduces service across most routes, but no routes are eliminated. Peak express service is reduced more than local service. Swift Blue Line will run every 12 minutes, Swift Green Line will run every 15, and both lines will run every 20 minutes on weekends and weekday evenings. All routes will retain their first and last trips except the following: 105, 106, 107, 196, 202, 247, 280, 412, 416, 424, 435, 821, and 871.
Pierce Transit will reduce service by 28% beginning March 30. Weekend service will remain the same, while on weekdays, most routes will come less frequently with route 102 completely suspended. Pierce Transit will post updated route schedules on Sunday.
Everett Transit will operate on a Sunday schedule. Additionally, routes 6 and 70 will be suspended, and route 18 will run on a special schedule.
Intercity Transit will run a weekend schedule every day, and the only Olympia Express route in operation will be route 620, and service will only run as far north as the SR 512 Park & Ride.