A few months ago, we mentioned that Community Transit was considering a truncation for many of its commuter routes to Northgate Station in 2021 to re-use bus hours for frequency. The second phase proposal for the restructure was presented to the CT Board on Thursday and is now available for online public comments.
The changes are tentatively scheduled for Fall 2021 and would largely be budget-neutral, using the reallocation of service hours to boost frequency on commuter routes. The 800-series routes serving the University District, along with most of the ST Express routes, would be truncated at Northgate Station. The 400-series routes and ST Route 510 would continue to serve Downtown Seattle via the express lanes. Each of the proposed changes will be described after the jump.
The bus trips serving Northgate Station would have synchronized schedules that would have trips leaving and arriving according to Link departures and arrivals. CT lists an average wait of 3 to 7 minutes for southbound trips (from bus to train) and 3 to 15 minutes for northbound trips (train to bus). The light rail ride from Northgate to Westlake is expected to be 14 minutes.
Community Transit states that it is still working on traffic modeling for the bus pathway from the transit center to I-5 with Metro and the City of Seattle, but travel times are expected to be longer in the southbound/inbound direction due to the configuration of the interchange. The final allocation of space at Northgate Station is also under development, but there is anticipated to be enough space for the proposed CT/ST changes alongside Metro’s own restructure.
In its first round of survey comments, CT said that they found riders were willing to transfer from bus to rail to improve the speed and reliability of their commutes. About 16 percent of UW riders and 26 percent of Downtown Seattle riders preferred to have a direct bus ride to their destination, while the remainder preferred a bus to Northgate or were willing to use whatever network was fastest or more reliable.
ST Express routes
- Route 510: Adding stop at Mountlake Terrace TC
- Route 511: Truncated at Northgate Station, adding 19 trips
- Route 512: Truncated at Northgate, boosted to 10-minute weekday frequency and added weekend trips
- Route 513: Adding stops at Ash Way and Lynnwood TC, bidirectional service, and additional frequency
Routes 511 and 513 would provide a combined 6-minute frequency between Ash Way and Northgate, which would replace some 800-series service. While Route 510 would not stop at Northgate, riders would be able to transfer at Mountlake Terrace if they need to reach the U District or want a faster path to Link.
Route 512 would get a major boost, with buses every 10 minutes at mid-day and early in the evenings on weekdays as well as on Saturdays. Sunday service would also be improved to 20-minute service. The freeway stop at Northeast 145th Street would be skipped due to low ridership and its impact on reliability, allowing buses to remain in the HOV lanes from near-Northgate to Ash Way.
The added stops and bi-directional service for Route 513 would allow it to function as a commuter route for Seattleites and South Sound residents who work at Boeing on first shift or at other workplaces in the Seaway area. The new service pattern would also enable a better journey from Link to Paine Field, with only an additional transfer to the Swift Green Line, which runs more frequently than the current Ash Way corridor buses that are used to reach the airport via Mariner.
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time that Sound Transit has provided direct service from Everett and Lynnwood to Northgate. Routes 505/506 had limited bi-directional peak service from park-and-rides in South Everett and Lynnwood to Northgate until they were eliminated in 2003 because of low ridership.
- Route 810: Mid-day and evening service added with 10 trips; no longer serving Lynnwood TC
- Route 821: Adding 17 trips
- Route 855: Eliminated in favor of other options from Lynnwood TC
- Route 860: Adding 8 trips
- Route 871: Adding 7 trips
- Route 880: Adding 8 trips
The university routes would have an evening frequency of every 15 minutes, with the last northbound trips leaving just after 6 p.m. Route 810, which serves as a late milk run to many park-and-rides, would have 15-minute service beginning after the last 800s trips and 30-minute service until after 9 p.m. The route would also have a boost to morning service, with 20-30 minute frequencies and the last southbound trip at 11:15 a.m.
Route 855 would be eliminated in favor of directing riders to the combined six-minute frequency of Routes 511/513. Another option from Lynnwood TC would be Route 821, which would have 17 new trips and a morning frequency of 20 minutes between buses.
The online open house for the Northgate Connections proposal is open until May 6. A public hearing is planned for May 7, but is subject to change based on the COVID-19 situation. The CT Board will vote on whether to move forward with the current proposal during their June 4 meeting.