2 Express Diesel

King County Metro has some challenging times ahead. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to lead to a recession, one which is forecast to be as bad or worse than the great recession of 2008. Funding from the CARES act can help offset losses in the short term, but Metro will almost certainly have to reduce service at some point.

Given these circumstances, it may be helpful to look back at last time Metro looked at implementing service cuts. Metro’s cuts were going to be implemented in four phases from 2014 to 2015, but only the first phase ended up being necessary. Seattle Transit Blog covered these reductions extensively with an overview, as well as detailed analyses of changes in Seattle/North King County and the Eastside. Though most of these reductions did not get implemented, they include a dramatic restructure of bus service (rather than a simple reduction of service across the board) throughout the county. With a reduction of bus service levels on the horizon again, it’s a good time to look back on some of these restructures and see which ones may come back, and what should be changed this time around.

Northeast Seattle

A radically shortened 71, slated for June 2015, would have run hourly on weekdays only and connected with the 73. When Northgate Link opens, Metro can run routes like this with much higher frequency.

There’s not a ton to say here since this area was already overhauled in the 2016 U-Link restructure, and will be restructured again next year for Northgate Link. But one theme of this restructure that will be quite relevant next year when Northgate Link opens is the consolidation of north/south service onto one corridor, and the normalization of transfers to connecting east/west service. In 2015, most north-south service was going to be consolidated into a new route 73 (which would have consolidated routes 66/71/72/73 to downtown and route 67 to U-District). In 2021, Link to Northgate can do all the heavy lifting, with a shorter local route to pick up the stops between stations.

Unfortunately, the current Northgate restructure proposal includes a lot of duplicative service on both parallel north/south and east/west corridors, as well as some L-shaped routes that barely count as frequent. I’ve always thought it would be a good idea to consolidate these routes so that, while most people would have to transfer to get to their destination, they could count on both routes to be not just frequent, but very frequent. With the threat of service reductions looming over the restructure proposal, such consolidation may be necessary to preserve frequent service at all.

Magnolia

Metro’s proposed route 33 in 2015 is an example of
how to make people not want to ride the bus.

For Magnolia, which has relatively low ridership and is in a geographically challenging area to serve, Metro proposed only two routes at peak: a 24 (that resembles today’s 19), and a 33 with a large loop that covers East Magnolia. Off-peak, that 33 would have a spur to West Magnolia in addition to the loop. Try as Metro might, there is just no good way to serve all of Magnolia effectively with one route.

This time around, I think they at least should keep both the 24 and 33 all day. This is a neighborhood where the proposed 24 loop seems to make a lot of sense to run all day (certainly more than today’s “snake-shaped” route 24). But the 33 loop should be smaller (only as far north as West Manor Place), and both routes should continue to overlap to provide frequent service to Expedia.

Additionally, Metro proposed eliminating the 31 and consolidating service around the 32. But with Queen Anne service (mostly) consolidated to serve SPU (creating a good transfer point for Queen Anne), and with the fact that the 32 doesn’t quite go downtown (requiring many riders to transfer), it may make more sense to consolidate service around a modified route 31 to Discovery Park (in place of the 33). The route could enter Magnolia via Dravus to facilitate transfers to the D-Line. If made frequent, this route could demonstrate how requiring passengers to transfer could allow frequent service to be expanded to more parts of the city, ultimately improving rider experience.

West Seattle

This modified route 50 would have replaced route 21.

This is another area that faced a dramatic change in service patterns. Broadly, Metro was trying to reduce all-day direct service to downtown Seattle from four routes (C-Line, 21, 120, and 125) to two core frequent routes (C-Line and 120). This seems laudable, as four all-day routes to downtown (3 of them frequent) is very expensive. However, replacing the 21 with the infrequent route 50 (and not providing any overlapping service to boost frequency) makes for a terrible rider experience. Moving the 50 would create a neat crosstown route, but bus service on 35th Ave should be supplemented with another route. Though overlapping the new 50 on 35th Ave, this other route could start and end in areas that would otherwise expect to lose all-day service (such as the northern part of today’s 128 and southern part of today’s 22).

One other change that would ease the transfer experience would be to move route 120 (soon to be the RapidRide H-Line) to exit Spokane Street onto SW Avalon Way, like the C-Line does, and then move back to Delridge via SW Genesee Street. While doing so would add a few minutes of delay to the 120, it would create a pair of stops that are served by both the C-Line and 120. If timed correctly, combined daytime headways from these stops to downtown would be 7-8 minutes on Sundays, and 6 minutes on weekdays. And during peak, riders could catch any one of up to 23 buses per hour downtown from this stop (assuming they don’t already have a peak downtown express, most of which would be preserved). Simply put, if done well, Metro can easily bring West Seattle down to two all-day routes to downtown without making it a miserable experience for riders who have to transfer.

57 Replies to “Metro’s 2015 restructures, revisited”

  1. Metro’s biggest challenges will be how to adapt to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge and maintaining adequate service for south King County. What happens with Magnolia and Wedgwood is comparatively unimportant.

    The restructures for Northgate Link and Eastside Link will also have to focus on providing adequate feed to the light rail stations. Bespoke service for powerful politicians should be enough to ensure defeat at election time.

    1. Guy, it’s because I agree with your priorities that you need to avoid the habit that always precipitates quarrels that otherwise wouldn’t happen. Advocate, work, and fight for what you think is important.

      But don’t ever publicly brush off anybody else’s wants and needs as unimportant. You might end up forcing somebody who really agrees with you to fight you so as not to let their own side down. Of course we all know transit NEVER has that happen in Seattle…don’t we?

      Mark Dublin

    2. Metro’s biggest challenges will be how to adapt to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge and maintaining adequate service for south King County. What happens with Magnolia and Wedgwood is comparatively unimportant.

      But they are all connected. It is the same pot of money. I’m not sure why the author focused on these spots — maybe just because they had some thoughts on these areas. These are the types of changes that will have to happen system wide if cuts have to be made.

      The West Seattle Bridge closure will cost Metro money, since the West Seattle buses will take longer to get to downtown (they will be like Ballard buses). There have been some ideas for bus lanes or creating routing, but the basic idea remains the same as it is today — the buses are detoured to the other bridge.

    3. Metro will definitely need to have a service plan for the low bridge being closed (IMO the best plan is to run the C-Line express to Westwood Village via 1st Ave S, and run in reverse order from WV to Alaska Junction. The 120/H is harder, since it runs both north and south of WV. It would probably run best express to Spokane/Delridge via 1st and W Marginal Way, then run south to Burien).

      I think, however, that Seattle will be under enormous pressure to keep the Spokane Street corridor open as much as possible due to the fact that the Spokane Street east bridge is the only way to access Harbor Island. It’s also evident that the city understands the importance of the east bridge to transit, since they made it transit (and emergency vehicles) only. So I think transit will have access to the low bridge longer than you might think.

      1. If you think the low level bridge is being used only by transit and trucks, you haven’t seen the reality. It’s a steady stream of personal cars and other vehicles. Once businesses re-open and traffic increases, there will need to be a plan to make sue that the low level bridge is reserved for transit and trucks.

  2. “One other change that would ease the transfer experience would be to move route 120 (soon to be the RapidRide H-Line) to exit Spokane Street onto SW Avalon Way, like the C-Line does, and then move back to Delridge via SW Genesee Street.”

    Sorry, what? There’s no way an articulated bus is taking all those hills and making those turns on Genesee.

    1. I agree. I don’t think that will work, nor do I think it is a good idea even if it did. For the next couple years, the buses will converge onto Spokane Street. If they want to make transfer easier, they could add a stop there.

    2. I’m not even sure that an articulated bus could deal with that hill. It’s (probably?*) one of the steepest blocks in the city and is locally well known for its struggles with gravity.

      Witness 2018, the steel ball bearing incident: https://westseattleblog.com/2018/10/traffic-alert-ball-filled-truck-trouble-on-genesee-east-of-avalon/

      2019, a more mundane occurrence with an equally mundane note: https://twitter.com/westseattleblog/status/1199492525041405952

      That street also closes during snow reroutes, and rightfully so. In icy conditions, the only thing that street is good for is sledding.

      *I tried to source this, I promise.

    3. Yes, the turns could potentially be an issue. I think articulated buses are fine with hills (though obviously with snow, the route would be different), but that would still need to be looked at.

      This idea is meant to allow people to transfer from local WS buses to the C-Line/120, not to transfer between the C and 120 (they both go downtown, so that wouldn’t be necessary except maybe for SLU). So if they can get a shared stop (any stop) in West Seattle, that would work.

      Though not articulated, the 50 does use Genesee, so we know Metro can run buses on that road at least. Another option would be to move the C-Line to Delridge Way on Genesee. With that, the angle of the turns are more favorable. It’s also less out of the way for the C-line, but more out of the way for feeder routes.

      1. There are other route options between downtown and SLU. One would be better off transferring to whichever of the C, 40, 62, or 70 comes first at 3rd & Pine.

      2. This idea is meant to allow people to transfer from local WS buses to the C-Line/120, not to transfer between the C and 120.

        OK, now I’m confused. If by “local WS” buses you mean WS buses that don’t go downtown, there aren’t many. There is the 22, 50 and 128. They all cross both the C-Line and 120. I suppose you could count the 773 and 775, but those don’t run that often.

        In general, I could see the value of having the buses converge before they leave West Seattle. If the 125 and 120 turned on Genesee to get to Avalon, it would allow riders to transfer to the C and 21 without having to backtrack all the way to downtown. The 22, 50 and 128 provide much of that functionality, but they are not that frequent, and I suppose they could get less frequent (which is why you brought it up now).

        I still don’t buy it. My guess is there just aren’t that many people who want to backtrack. Even if the hills weren’t an issue (and they are) the people who benefit would be greatly outnumbered by those who are delayed in getting downtown. Most of those that would benefit are folks on Delridge who would be just fine waiting for the 50. If they miss that, they could just walk — it is far, but not horrible (https://goo.gl/maps/XRVjFMLx9RDXhCSs8).

      3. I disagree. The 120 is already a slow bus, made slower by its detour to Westwood Village to meet the C-line. We don’t need to make it yet slower for the sake of meeting the C-line yet again. Yes, the combined frequency would be nice for people living on one particular block of Avalon, but there just aren’t enough people able to take advantage of that to be worth the delays to everyone else.

        For those that love on Delridge that want to get to Alaska Junction, there are other options, the simplest being to just ignore the bus entirely and walk up the hill. I’ve done it and doesn’t take that long. Taking the 120 the other way and switching to the C line or 128 around Westwood Village is another option.

        The only way sending the 120 to Avalon makes any sense is if there’s a Link station there, and only because it would avoid the service hour sink of sending the 120 downtown entirely. This is clearly not the case here. If you’re going to pay for the hours to run the 120 downtown (which is certainly necessary), make it quick.

      4. There aren’t currently that many West Seattle buses that don’t go downtown, but if Metro looks at doing a restructure like the one previously proposed, they are going to bring it down to just 2 (the C-Line, and 120/H-Line). So service that is cut would have to transfer to get downtown.

      5. if Metro looks at doing a restructure like the one previously proposed, they are going to bring it down to just 2 [all day buses from West Seattle to downtown] (the C-Line, and 120/H-Line) .

        OK, assume that is the case. The 21 would get truncated where exactly? It could take a left, and go to the Junction. But if you really care about that connection, it could just as easily take a right, and end at Youngstown. Meanwhile, you have the 125. It would be silly to truncate it at Youngstown. It makes way more sense to send it up the hill to the Junction. Heck, if times are tough, you could kill off the 50 west of SoDo. Then take the 125 and combine it with the West Seattle part of the 50 (the part from Delridge east — Genesee, the Junction, California, Admiral Way, Alki). That’s actually not a bad route — an east-west, West Seattle Bus with a solid anchor on both ends. It would intercept the north-south routes heading to downtown.

        The point is, there are just better ways to make that connection than delaying the vast majority of riders on the 120.

    4. West Seattle has so many routes going downtown because all of the buses were full! No matter how many C and 120 buses they added there was always an overcrowding problem. Everybody loves those routes. Both would be better with less, not more detours/turns.

      Route 50–yes, it’s terrible and possibly the most meandering route in Metro’s system, but its main use is connecting Alki and the Junction. It also connects to light rail which is a plus. But it is absolutely useless for getting crosstown because of the SODO detour. I wish it would skip all of the SODO stops and go straight from West Seattle to Beacon Hill. Now that would be a useful bus.

      Route 21–my partner used to use it to go to work at Starbucks HQ but gave up after a couple months because it was too unreliable. It needs to be decoupled from the 5 if it is ever going to be of any use as a reliable part of the transit network.

      55/56/57: Can’t be counted on–Metro frequently cancels trips in the AM so if you have to be somewhere at a certain time they are useless. A simple fix is to ditch the 55 entirely and add the trips to the 56/57. Every time I have taken the 55 to downtown it’s been because the C was full or a 55 happened to show up before a C. The 55 toward West Seattle gets stuck in traffic on Fauntleroy and is generally useless for that reason.

  3. If we want bus routes that aggressively leverage Link, then the frequency of Link is going to have to go back up. Offering people a frequent bus in exchange for a Link connection is not much use when the Link connection, itself, is running only every 30 minutes.

    1. asdf2, when COVID’s OVID! (sorry couldn’t resist) is there any chance headways won’t at least go back to (arcane numerology mandatory) 13?

      Mark Dublin

    2. I think Link will run frequently again once this temporary state is over. There is just no way that Link will run every 30 minutes or 20 minutes on a permanent basis. There will certainly be a longer period of depressed peak ridership, but what I think will probably happen is Link will go back to 7.5 minute headways at peak like it was before they did 6 minute headways. Even with the necessity to reduce operating costs, Link was doing so well with 10 minute headways off-peak that if they need to break into that, they can still run every 15 minutes in general.

    3. In fact, for what it’s worth, after the 2008 recession they were able to maintain 7-8/10 minute headways (with 15 minute headways during late night and early morning). I don’t think Link has ever had to run at 30 minute headways before this year.

    4. Sound Transit is in a better financial position than Metro because it has a much higher tax authority, and most of its expenses are capital projects which could be deferred to preserve operations. So Link will prpbably return to 10-minute headways as soon as it gets a handle on its biohazard/security issue and ridership starts to increase. More-frequent peak headways are mainly to manage capacity demand, so peak headways will be 10, 8, 7.5, or 6 minutes as appropriate. The 6-minute headways were only a temporary measure between the end of the ride-free area (or something around that time) and U-Link (or something around that time); they were never promised all the way through to Lynnwood Link.

      1. Sound Transit is also highly dependent on fare revenue (while Metro is not). The service cuts don’t save ST that much money — they are losing almost as much in fares. When the pandemic is over, demand will return, and it will be far more cost effective to have frequent service.

  4. The North Link Connections Mobility Project* is a pretty good starting template. It focuses a lot of the bus service to Link. I would do the following as well (in order):

    1) Eliminated Metro buses on the ship canal bridge. For the new proposal, this means getting rid of express buses to South Lake Union and First Hill. The express buses to other parts of downtown were already supposed to be axed. Express buses to First Hill and South Lake Union don’t perform very well, and once Link gets here, they will perform very poorly. The 312, for example will be truncated at Roosevelt. It will likely carry just as many people as before, but spend a lot less time doing it. Ridership per hour will increase dramatically. In contrast, the 309, which already lags the 312, will lag even more — even if it holds onto existing ridership. What is true of those buses is true of similar proposals, like the 302. These should be truncated or eliminated. There simply isn’t enough in time savings to justify these costly routes.

    2) Run the proposed 61 and 45 on 85th. This makes sense anyway, but if the buses suffer from reduced frequency, this at least gives Greenwood riders a frequent ride to Link. For example, if both buses run every twenty minutes, at least Greenwood riders would have ten minute east-west frequency.

    3) Consolidate the 67 and 73. I’ve argued for this for a while now. If you can’t afford to run a bus on 15th frequently, then you shouldn’t run it. Having the 67 follow the main corridor up to 145th kills two birds with one stone, while only a handful of riders have to transfer or walk.

    These first three changes made sense before any cuts. Other changes are tougher:

    4) Cut the 23, 74 and 79 coverage routes. It isn’t clear what the plan was, but if those ran every 30 minutes, the ridership on those routes would have been poor.

    Some of these general ideas were part of my proposal here: https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/02/16/phase-2-northgate-link-bus-network-proposal/. If I had to make additional cuts to that proposal, I would do the following:

    Kill off my proposed 63, 64, 73 rush hour routes first. I would probably hold off on changes to the D and 15. Those cost money (just to deal with the branding, if nothing else). As with Metro’s plan, I would kill off the coverage routes before cutting frequency. I would start with the 81, followed by the 74/79 (hopefully it wouldn’t come to that).

    *https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/programs-projects/fares-routes-and-service/north-link-connections.aspx

      1. Travel time through Medina vs. up along 520 and then Bellevue Way is actually pretty similar. The 555 (which runs on 405 then 520) and 271 both leaving Bellevue TC at the same time often meet (or just miss each other) at the 520 bridge, and if anything I could imagine that going up Bellevue Way could be a little slower than going around on 405 unless the interchange is really backed up.

        I am not suggesting there are not good reasons to change the routing, but IMHO speed (and thus service cost) is probably not one of them. I would love to see actual statistics showing I am wrong, though – this is all anecdotal on my part.

      2. The speed issue with Medina is at rush-hour when the bus is very full and likely quite late. It’s not that a lot of people get off at Medina, but that one or two get off at some of the stops, and every time that happens, they have to weave through the standing-room only bus (some people have to exit and then reboard), and if anyone is waiting to get on, that takes longer as well.

        There isn’t anything inherently wrong with having a bus with a few people going to Medina while packed with people going to UW, but the issue is that those few people end up slowing down a bus that is already going to be unreliable.

      3. It will take longer for westbound 271 to get to the UW via Bellevue Way than through Medina. Because if it’s going down Bellevue Way, it will have to detour to the S. Kirkland P&R, since it’s so close. Metro doesn’t like to get within blocks of a TC or P&R and NOT serve it. The Bellevue Way routing would add 5 – 10 minutes to the trip.

      4. @AlexKvenvolden I have experienced that as well, but do you expect the same problem would not happen if it traveled up Bellevue Way (replacing the 249, and thus having people get on and off at the QFC and various churches along the route) or the 405/520 route (thus having to stop at the freeway stops)? From my experience, even the 249 that used to run once or twice an hour would stop at least once along Bellevue Way. If you were to replace the 271 through Medina, and assuming the 249 and 246 remained canceled, the Clyde Hill ridership would transfer to the new 271 route and go down the hill off of Bellevue Way, thus negating the time savings.

        My own experience with Medina slowdowns is that the worst of it happened when the interchange backed up a lot onto 84th st. In recent years it has not been quite as bad, but it used to be that riding the 271 around 6pm was a terrible idea, you may as well wait until 7pm and hit Seattle at the same time.

        Speaking of the 271, I think that the Issaquah tail also adds slowdown in the sense that the Issaquah buses seem to get significantly more backed up (by the time they get to Bellevue TC) relative to their short turn brethren, to the point where you often get the two arrive at the same time at BTC, instead of 15 minutes apart. Again, this is an issue primarily in the afternoon commute, I think. I know people who never bother to catch the 5:59 271 and always wait for the 6:13 for that reason (and 6:28 vs. 6:43 tended to be similar in the Before Times, as did earlier runs).

      5. @Sam I considered that potential issue as well, but the old 243 that ran up Bellevue Way and then onto 520 didn’t do that detour (unless perhaps South Kirkland P&R was not there at the time, do you remember?)

        My guess is they would follow the old 243 route if they got rid of the Medina tail. But yes, if they did add the South Kirkland loop, that would just make for a terrible experience for the Seattle-bound riders.

      6. @AM

        Most of those make some sense. I think sending it to 520 would still be a significant improvement since there would be just two additional stops, and not a bunch of stops scattered throughout Medina. Routing could be the same express routing to UW as the 555 and 556. They go close to S. Kirkland but don’t stop there. I think Metro would be understanding that the 250 (almost said 234/235) covers S. Kirkland to Bellevue sufficiently.

      7. My experience is that bypassing Medina doesn’t have much travel time impact, except for rush hour. During rush hour, you really want the 555/56 pathway so as to utilize the HOV entrance ramp to 520.

        There is an argument for moving the 271 to Bellevue Way if you think there’s greater ridership potential there. There might be some, as even single family homes produces more ridership potential than a golf course. But, it won’t help much.

        What it would mean is that Medina would lose nearly all of its bus service, since it would no longer be on the way between two large destinations, and it doesn’t have the ridership to support a special shuttle, just for them. Under the current system, Bellevue Way at least has the 249, which is better than nothing.

      8. @asdf2,
        When I worked in Bellevue and had things to do in Seattle, I tried to time my departure to line up with the half-hour 555 schedule because it was so much better. It has gotten so much more reliable since it was truncated to Bellevue only.

        I could imaging converting the 246 to a loop in Medina, and making the best use of that hourly bus to cover as many people who want to ride the bus as possible.

      9. I lived on north Bellevue Way in the early 80s, and lived in south Bellevue Way and worled in north Bellevue Way before that. The buses there didn’t always go to the South Kirkland P&R, only the 255 did. The 235 didn’t and I’m not sure if its successor the 230 did. Adding the South Kirkland P&R may have been when the 235 was restored and moved off Bellevue Way to 116th, where it’s closer to the P&R.

        I benefited from the one-seat ride between south Bellevue Way,. north Bellevue Way, and Kirkland. But Metro now considers north Bellevyue Way a low-ridership coverage area. Its current service and several proposals over the years have an infrequent coverage route from Bellevue TC to Northup Way and turning east.

        So I highly doubt the 271 would move to Bellevue Way. All the proposals I’ve seen have it moving to 405. It’s not clear that Bellevue Way needs more service from Medina or has a compelling reason to attract a UW route, especially since Medina is further from any other route.

      10. A point of note in my assumptions (I think I stated this earlier though not very clearly) – given the recession and funding loss, I highly doubt that the 246 or 249 are coming back in their current incarnations. If both of them go, _and_ the 271 leaves Medina in favor of the freeway route approach, then NW Bellevue/Clyde Hill/Medina would lose all bus service except for the freeway stops along 520. This may or may not be acceptable (I suppose some of it could be replaced by a high school coverage route like the 888/891/whatever in other parts of Bellevue). I do know that there are some blind riders on the 271 who would suffer from losing the Medina route, but I guess that’s not entirely avoidable.

        I would be very curious to see some actual statistics showing travel time in different conditions (rush hour, mid-day, late night/early morning) on the 3 paths in question, since it sounds like our experiences are different despite having ridden the 271 in around the same time period. I expect that a lot of that is perception and I am totally willing to believe that my perception is wrong :) I often read while riding and so could imagine losing track of time when going slowly through Medina, for example. But I assume that such an estimate exists somewhere at Metro if they are going to consider rerouting the 271.

      11. @AlexK

        The stops in Medina don’t add any running time if they’re not used and, outside of rush hour, are generally not used. There is also value in having a stop in front of Bellevue Square, which does get used, and is out of the way going from the transit center to 405.

        Rush hour, saving time is all about utilizing the HOV lanes and ramps, like the 556 does, not taking the cuthrough path that Waze directs all the SOV drivers to take when traffic is backed up, like the 271 does.

        For Bellevue Way, I would personally love to see a route that just went straight through from Kirkland all the way to South Bellevue Park and ride, no turns, no transit centers, no detours. Right now, it doesn’t jive well with the 550, but would complement eastlink pretty well, once that comes online.

        Will probably not happen, though, as transit centers suck buses in like gravity. You also never see a bus drive within a mile of a transit center without going all the way into its bus bays.

    1. Still think the Route 43 should “re-wire and roll”, to give that whole steep hill of a neighborhood single-seat rides to Group Health and Capitol Hill Station, and to be a pre-set “Bus Bridge” when Link needs one.

      I also, wouldn’t sacrifice wiring the Route 48 all the way down to Mount Baker Station. But in general, good idea to put as much north-south service as possible to Link.

      Mark Dublin

  5. One of the most exciting parts of the 2014/15 restructures was the introduction of the low-income ORCA (LIFT). Metro has now followed up and come up with a way to provide free passes to very-low income riders (though reaching all of them is likely a work in progress, and moot during the fare vacation).

    I would sure love to not see a return to change fumbling slowing down the buses when fares come back. The change handling is one thing I’d like to see much less of in the age of COVID-19.

    At the same time, we’ll need to educate ORCA tappers to not actually tap, but merely hold the card just the right distance from the reader, so as to reduce the high-touchness of that surface. Maybe we need to start calling the action “waving” instead of “tapping”?

    Want to bring back a little more service or reduce the pain of restructures? Allow the routes to be slightly faster by discouraging cash payment. Make the ORCA fare less than the cash fare. Please.

    1. The latest data on the virus suggests that is hard to spread through surfaces. I seriously doubt that tapping on an ORCA reader ever spread the disease, or would spread it. It was a reasonable precaution early on (when little was known about the disease) but I wouldn’t worry about it.

    2. ORCA’s chief value is its simplicity. Cherish it. Final word on fares? “I’ve Already Paid.” Not saying “Defund Enforcement”, or Superior Court either. Just that since revenue distribution’s in Accounting’s job description, Star Fleet shouldn’t have to work out of grade.

      Registration-education, perfect duty for Link’s real passenger base, who are mostly five years old. You doubt me, just ride any train and look at them. Not fair about buses, but at least with wire overhead to watch, there’s a chance.

      In this job description, a “Tapmunk” is not just a cute furry little creature on sale at the ticket counter. It’s really a company position verified with a furry Husky-hat with ears.

      Oath of induction is that the recruit will make sure that every adult in sight registers their card in accordance with the motions that experts have ascertained get the card’s vital job done best. Or face the wrath of the violator’s mommy, who is often about seventy. No threat as chilling as “I’ll Tell On You!” Especially for an attorney or a doctor.

      And given the Age of CELLUCOVID, will anybody DARE cross one of these little enforcers? You’ll get HATED worldwide in HINDUSTANI! And in recognition of the Seattle demographic most put upon by PLASTICOVERPOLICING:
      No Superior Court justice will ever again have his golf-game thrown askew over viral BOOPBEEP confusion.

      We’re already there, guys. Just do it.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Right, but this isn’t one of those surfaces. You don’t put your hands on the ORCA reader. You don’t hand your ORCA card to a whole crowd of people.

        So not only is there a low risk of transmission through surfaces, but in this case, the risk is further reduced because you aren’t touching the surface. It would be extremely difficult to spread the disease that way. It is like using your elbow to press a walk button. Yes, there is some risk (at some point the elbow is going to contact another body part, which will contact another body part, etc.) but it is very small.

        In contrast, consider the gas pump. You put your hand on it, and the next person puts their hand on it. Unless people are using gloves (and they aren’t) you are spreading all those germs. Yet for a very long time now, there has been no limitation on pumping gas.

        Of course it is a good idea to be careful. Wash your hands after you get back from a bus trip. Try to avoid touching the railings. But the biggest risk, by far, is the breath of your fellow passenger. If I get on a bus with the windows closed, I’m going around and opening every single one, even though it means touching a lot of surfaces, just because that will make me safer.

  6. As far as changing bus paths goes, the most effective change would be to get cars off those paths. Now is our window of opportunity for bus riders to claim more dedicated ROW, especially downtown. Especially 3rd Ave. It should also now be more popular than ever to begin installing camera enforcement and get rid of the historically discriminatory and dangerous practice of traffic stops. I think the populace is ready to defund that practice.

    Also, the Harbor Island Bridge. Mayor Durkan got it right. Then my district representative went to work for the SOV drivers to try to give them priority over the buses, as she seems to do everywhere. If we don’t get to have camera enforcement on the Harbor Island Bridge, ask for it in the next legislative session. Movement of cars between West Seattle and downtown will be horrible for the next several years. But we can nevertheless make mobility for *people* (and bikes and freight) between West Seattle and downtown as good as it has ever been if we make breaking the law expensive for the Lisas and Karens and Chads.

  7. Metro can’t threaten to cut routes and trips that they already cut, so are they going to threaten to cut routes I no longer take?

  8. I’d like to present an issue that’s a different dimension: timing. Routing and frequency are basic building blocks of a bus transit system and need both periodic tweaking and occasionally major restructuring.

    The changes in behavior from the pandemic — and the tax revenue required to provide the same level bus service — are significant. Cuts will be needed somehow. New criteria are needed to assess transit needs because our standard of crowding should change.

    I can’t see the future, but I see a return to a pre-COVID lifestyle as it affects demand as unlikely at 100 percent — but I expect 85 or 90 percent by this fall. I also expect that more transit dependent routes to approach restored ridership faster than the ones that serve choice riders and I expect long-distance routes to really lose ridership because of new work-at-home technology systems.

    Another issue is the measurement of crowding. Bus capacity rules have been changed for the foreseeable future. It’s also an immediate and impactful direct measurement. I don’t think the riding public are accustomed to having to wait why multiple buses pass them by when they get “crowded”. Because of this, resources will be prioritized to ease this as opposed to providing wider coverage. What good is having a nearby route if you can’t be allowed onto a bus?

    Rather than get into route specifics, I think we are going to have to first redefine overall new system requirements.

    1. Define how many bus hours can be funded considering the loss of revenue. That’s our reality.
    2. Use 85 or 90 percent of 2019 data to identify what percent of runs will typically exceed the new definition of “capacity” on each route. Calculate how many more service hours are required to remedy that. That’s our target.
    3. Compare the two. That’s our new deficiency.

    Then and only then should we begin to glance at frequency needs and restructures from the past. I don’t think we should get too far ahead of ourselves at this point.

  9. For Magnolia I would do this: https://tinyurl.com/y9nakhgy. It is a bare bones system, especially if all buses are running every half hour. Getting to downtown often requires a transfer, and the transfer sometimes requires walking a bit (https://goo.gl/maps/MQXciPWKfhWGGXMR8). However, it retains coverage for the entire peninsula. It also gives part of Dravus 15 minute service.

    Another drawbacks is that there would be fewer buses along the small sliver of Elliot between Mercer and Denny, but it isn’t that far of a walk, and my guess is you don’t get that many riders there outside of rush hour (when express buses are common).

    In the long run though, it creates a better system. If service can be increased to 20 minute frequency on the 3 buses, it would be better overall, and not much more expensive than today (since you don’t have the 33).

    At some point — after the other buses are running every 20 minutes — the 33 could be added back in. If you could time it right, that would mean 10 minute frequency for parts of Magnolia (where two buses overlap) as well as that section of Western. That would be a big improvement over today.

    Good frequency on the D would be essential for this to work.

  10. Good article. The proposed 2015 network is news to more recent readers, and a reminder to us all of what a 25% reduction would look like. Seattle also has the looming expiration of the Transit Benefit District next year if it’s not renewed. That would eliminate 15-minute evenings on the 5, 10, 40, 41, and 120; 20-minute evenings on the 8; 15-minute Saturdays on the 11; a few evening trips on the 49; etc. At worst the 40 and 120 may revert to hourly evenings. The C and D split took a third of the TBD funds. The night owls would be gone entirely. That’s all before the baseline Metro cuts.

  11. the earlier reduction plan is irrelevant. the world has changed; two new Link stations in 2016 and three more in 2021.

    RossB has the correct emphasis: feed Link. SR-520 to UW; West Seattle to SODO; SR-522 to Roosevelt; North King County to Northgate.

    we need ST to run Link more often at off-peak times. we need ST to run its bus routes more often at off-peak times. they are trunk lines.

    First Hill and SLU should be served by very frequent two-way all-day services.

    with a limited service budget, a one-way peak-only route will have to very full to survive the reductions.

  12. So as ridership gradually increases, does how does Metro determine which cut routes to bring back? Do they bring them all back at the same time? Or, do they only bring back some, but not others? How do they determine which one’s not to bring back? By past ridership? By equity and income? Does a higher income route, like the 246, stay cut, but a relatively lower income route, like the 249, get to come back first?

    1. Routes that are near their capacity ceilings will probably get additional service first. Peak expresses will probably depend on when downtown businesses open significantly and on road congestion. Some peak expresses are because the local route is too slow or findirect, but others are really compensating for peak traffic congestion and capacity demand. For instance, the 15X is comparable to the the D’s off-peak travel time but faster than the D’s peak-hour travel time. And if both the D and the 15 are full, then why not run some of them as expresses because busfuls of people are all going to the same place. There’s also the equity principle, which Metro is legally bound to consider and will voluntarily consider it beyond that because this is a liberal county.

  13. News update – Metro has announced they will be cutting service in the September restructure. https://kingcountymetro.blog/2020/06/11/metro-plans-september-service-change-amid-budget-challenges/

    Not counting the Eastside restructure, 50 routes will be fully suspended (mostly peak-hour routes). 69 routes will be reduced – I suppose this could range anywhere from cutting 1-2 extra peak hour buses to chopping all-day frequency in half. 53 routes will operate at normal frequency.

    1. Thank you for the update – Metro confirmed my assumption stated earlier, that the 246 and 249 will stay gone for the time being. So if the 271 were to move out of Medina, we would indeed have no more service anywhere in West Bellevue other than downtown (nor through Medina, Clyde Hill, or Beaux Arts I guess due to the 249 being gone).

      1. I’ve not seen any official interest in moving the 271 out of Medina. It’s just a speculative idea. Metro once talked about moving it to 405 but that has disappeared in recent plans. Metro has kept the 271 in Medina through thick and thin, and if surrounding routes are suspended then it makes it even less likely that Metro would move it.

      2. That’s crazy. If they are suspending the 249, then the 271 should be re-routed to Bellevue Way. It doesn’t make any sense for Medina to have (relatively) frequent service, while Bellevue Way has nothing.

      3. Again, Metro’s estimate is that north Bellevue Way is a low-ridership coverage area. All the recent plans and current service treat it like that. So it’s not clear that it deserves more service than Medina, or that coverage should actually be pulled from another area to it.

      4. Sorry Mike, but that is ridiculous. There is no way that Medina is a higher ridership area than Bellevue Way. If you look at the census maps, you can see that it has more density. If you just look at the aerial maps, you can see that it has a lot more apartments. You can also see the obvious flaws with the Medina routing (e. g. the golf course and the dead ends). Bellevue Way is also a faster way to get to 520 and it enables you to stop at the freeway stops.

        The only reason they have the current routing is because Metro is afraid of upsetting some well-to-do residents. Better to screw over the folks in the apartments I guess.

      5. You keep focusing on census maps. It’s people, not census units, who make transportation decisions. Tramsit demand is not just how many people live in the area, but whether they’re predisposed to use transit, what their destinations are, and whether there’s a good variety of compelling nearby destinations they might go to. North Bellevue Way probably has some transit demand but not high, as is the rest of Bellevue.So it’s plausable Metro was right in deeming it a converage area, lower than 116th, which has become the Eastside’s “First Hill”. When I wrote the above comments I thought north Bellevue Way still had a coverage route between Bellevue TC and Northup Way. And looking at the map now, it does, the 249, although it’s suspended for coronavirus.

        I can see your point that moving the 271 to north Bellevue Way to serve those apartments might be a good idea. It just seems arbitrary to choose 84th to yank coverage from. We don’t know what the September changes will look like; there may or may not be a reorg; the 271 may or may not move to Bellevue Way; and maybe we should ask Metro to do so. I just, I’ve lived with the 271 and its ancestors serving Medina throughout, and my own advocacy spurts to move it east, and Metro’s long-time refusal to, then Metro considering moving it to 405 for Link, then Metro reconfirming the existing Bellevue-Medina-UW alternative long-term. All that history makes me reluctant to prioritize it for a campaign, or think that it would succeed, or that the service should be taken out of Medina in particular.

        Another reason for my reluctance is that the freeway curves. Going up to the Bellevue Way entrance to get to UW is a longer distance and backtracking. That seems to be the biggest argument for keeping the current routing. It’s the most direct, some overhead but not a huge amount, and reasonably fast because the streets are uncongested. (Except at rush hour when all the cars are looking for a shortcut to 520.) It’s much less overhead than the 226/235 used to have when they meandered through Enatai or Beaux Arts and Mercer Island and Rainier/Dearborn as the most direct route to Seattle.

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