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Metro is in Phase 3 of the North Link Connections Mobility Project.  Their proposed network is disappointing, but understandable. Instead of increased frequency, there are cuts (due to funding issues). This is my proposal based on their ideas.

About the Map

You can see a full size map by clicking in the corner. The map is interactive — the check boxes will display or hide different routes. I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible on the map, although buses on one-way streets are shown only in one direction.


Most of the buses follow Metro’s proposed routing, and most of those are unchanged. The 301 is the only two-way peak bus route. Every other “Peak Only” bus is peak direction.

There are four basic themes with my proposal:

  1. Consolidate routes as a way to increase frequency on corridors.
  2. Worry less about transfers, and more about frequency and speed.
  3. Trips — including those involving transfers — should be in the same basic direction.
  4. Express buses are truncated at Link stations to increase frequency.

New or Modified Routes

Peak Only:

64 — This will be truncated at the Roosevelt Park and Ride. This provides riders with a fast connection to Link. It is more cost effective than increasing frequency on the 65.

302 — This gives Richmond Beach riders a faster trip to Northgate, where it ends.

303 — Like Metro’s routing, except truncated at Northgate.

304 — This replaces the Shoreline Park and Ride section with the deleted part of the 302. As with all of the Shoreline changes, riders have faster alternatives to get to Northgate, and other ways of getting to Aurora Village.

312 — Truncated at Green Lake Park and Ride (like the 522). Side Note: I wish the 312 and 522 were reversed. The 312 (with more stops) should run all day, while the 522 (limited stop express) should only run during rush hour. But that is unlikely to happen without greater cooperation between the two agencies.

All Day Routes:

61 — This is a new bus, based on Metro’s previous proposal. I extend it all the way to 32nd Avenue NW. Crown Hill has plenty of density (and existing ridership) and this would connect to all of the north-south Ballard buses (the D, 28 and 40). Although the section between 15th and 32nd is pretty cheap, I would expect ridership to go down there. If layover space could be found at 15th, that would be ideal. If push comes to shove, then I could live with the layover in Greenwood. That would preserve the core of the 61 — a fast bus connecting Lake City, Northgate and Greenwood (with a connection to the E).

62 — This is a fairly simple change that allows for faster travel between Roosevelt and Wallingford/Fremont, the core of the route. If for some reason the bus can’t turn on 55th/56th, at the very least it should stay on 65th to Woodlawn. Even though there is only one bus through there, no one will have to walk far to catch it (and for many, it will be a lot more frequent). 

65 — This would run through campus both directions. I don’t have a strong preference for running through campus or by the Montlake triangle. If it is faster to run by the triangle, then do that. I just want the 65 and 75 (and to a lesser extent the 372) to serve the same stops whenever possible. That way someone trying to get to the U-Village, Children’s Hospital or Lake City can use the same bus stop, and have double the frequency.

67 — This combines the 67 and 73 for a faster, straighter, more frequent bus. As with any change, there is a trade-off. A small number of riders on 15th will have to walk a bit farther. It is harder to catch a bus from Maple Leaf to Northgate. But with the existing 67, very few people did that. This is understandable, since it is often faster to just walk, even if you are standing by the bus stop, and the bus is right there. Those that don’t want to walk can always make a transfer (to Link or a frequent set of buses).

In exchange, this would give a lot of people (north of Northgate Way) a  more frequent, fast, one seat-ride to Maple Leaf, Roosevelt and the UW. Combined with the 347/348, it gives a lot of those riders a more frequent, fast connection to Link. Most riders, of course, won’t notice the difference, but will appreciate better frequency on this, or other buses that come from combining these routes. 

The other change to the 67 is to combine service with the 45, between 45th and 65th. As much as I hate to abandon that part of the Roosevelt/12th corridor, we need more frequency on The Ave. It is a short walk (three or four minutes) from Roosevelt/12th to University Way. If the bus ran on Roosevelt/12th, those that are trying to connect to Link would have to walk most of those blocks anyway.

Deleted Routes:

26 — The existing 26 does not perform well through the preserved section. It carries fewer riders north of 45th than south of it. Nor is it essential for coverage. North of 65th, the 26 is never far from the 45 or 61. South of 65th, the new 62 covers most of the route. There is no reason to save what would be a low ridership, poor coverage route.

73 — The 67 replaces it.

322, 361 — Not needed. The 312 replaces service on SR 522 (to complement the 522) while the all-day 61 replaces the 361.

Service Levels

To get a rough idea of service levels, we can compare costs and savings versus Metro’s proposal. My proposal truncates 144 trips that would otherwise go to First Hill or South Lake Union. The 26 and 73 are gone. These service savings are put into the addition of the 61 . At worse the 61 would run only to Greenwood, but still have 15 minute all-day frequency. The 62 is a bit faster, while the 67 is a bit longer. Other changes are revenue neutral.

Ultimately it would lead to the type of network that Metro originally proposed, even if it doesn’t have the big increase in frequency we all want. If and when the funding situation improves, we will already have the buses in place to take full advantage of it.

31 Replies to “Phase 3 Northgate Link Bus Network Proposal”

  1. A few things that stand out to me:

    * While the 31 is losing all weekend service in this weekend’s shuffle, it is gaining both Saturday /and/ Sunday service next in this proposal, so there is finally an all-day 15-minute corridor from lower Fremont to the U-District.

    * The 44 is going from 10-minute to 15-minute mid-weekday service, and the 45 is going from 7-12 peak service to 10-15 minute peak service. Is the thinking that there’s already plenty of bus service in the U-District, or is that Metro actually thinks that people will ride Link from the Stadium to Brooklyn despite the inconvenience?

    * Losing weekend service on the 26X is disappointing, but I think it’s more important to keep the frequent all-day service on the 62 and improving the 31. While I can see the appeal of running the 62 on Latona, its walkshed is impaired by the steep hill and I-5 to the east. The 62 hits Tangletown which, while not a major destination, always has a few riders when I’ve been on the bus, and Roosevelt needs frequent service a lot more than Northgate.

    All in all, I’m really glad that Metro listened to the feedback asking for a comprehensive all-day network rather than a spaghetti of weekday- and peak-only routes.

    1. Er, when I said “Roosevelt” in relation, to the 62, I meant 65th. Getting my N-S and E-W streets mixed up…

    2. The cutbacks in service to the 44 and 45 are no different to the cuts everywhere else. They are due to lack of funds. Nothing more, nothing less. Otherwise, these are bus routes that would get more service due to the extension of Link, not less.

      The move of the 62 to Latona is designed to save time. By doing so, riders trying to get from Sand Point or the Roosevelt neighborhood to Wallingford/Fremont save time, while frequency on the system improves. There are very few riders who are inconvenienced. Those on Ravenna can take the 45. Between Ravenna and Tangletown (56th) there are very few riders — roughly as many riders on the Latona (on a bus that runs a lot less often).

      As I wrote in this post, if we can’t do this routing, I would send the 62 on 65th. That saves a considerable amount of time, while losing very few (if any) riders. Doubling up service on Ravenna is nice, but it isn’t worth the cost, and may be made up for riders who are closer to 65th and don’t want to walk that far.

    3. All in all, I’m really glad that Metro listened to the feedback asking for a comprehensive all-day network rather than a spaghetti of weekday- and peak-only routes.

      This is my proposal, not Metro’s. Metro’s proposal ( is still a spaghetti of weekday- and peak-only routes. I think it is better than what we have, but I think we can do better. A trip from Lake City to Greenwood — any time of day — should not take an hour, and look like this: Not when there are expensive express routes that save very little time for only a handful riders.

    4. While I can see the appeal of running the 62 on Latona, its walkshed is impaired by the steep hill and I-5 to the east. The 62 hits Tangletown which, while not a major destination, always has a few riders when I’ve been on the bus…

      The Latona routing would still have the 62 serve the mixed-use area in Tangletown. Where it goes after that is the question. The current routing along Kirkwood/Woodlawn also has a natural barrier (Green Lake) inhibiting much of its walkshed.

      Either way (current routing or Latona routing) it’s traversing a sea of mostly single-family homes on the way from Tangletown to 65th. Advantages of the Latona routing include running along a wider arterial street for a faster trip to Roosevelt, and also serving the businesses at 65th and Latona. Disadvantages include removing service from the Hearthstone retirement home.

    1. Aach. Yes, you are right. I originally used “Roosevelt” to mean the neighborhood and station, but then realized I should be more precise, and put down the park and ride. But I didn’t word it correctly — it should read “Green Lake Park and Ride”. I would edit this, but I don’t know how.

  2. In working through this, do you find the Northgate TC will be becoming an much less important transit transfer hub once a Lynnwood Link opens? Should we even have a North Seattle transit hub if bus frequencies are better, and instead have each route cross Link at the most logical station as a through route? Should bus layover/ driver break locations be at the end of a route as opposed to a Link station?

    Of all the stations north of the Ship Canal, it appears to have the least direct east-west connectivity to me and the advantage of I-5 direct access ramps seem to go away upon Lynnwood Link’s opening. Finally, Northgate Mall has become a less important retail destination.

    This seems to be a basic eventual outcome of the restructure to me. I’m curious if you think this too.

    1. What does not having a north Seattle transit hub look like? The 345, 346, 347, and 348 have to terminate somewhere. There will still be demand between Lake City and Northgate, and between Roosevelt and Northgate, and Ballard/Greenwood and Northgate.

      Northgate is one of three designated Urban Centers in Seattle, after Center City and the U-District. That means it will have the most density, retail, and apartments, regardless of what happens to Northgate Mall and its boutiques. There will be significant demand to Northgate from all directions, and the Northgate Link station will not move even if it’s not in the best place. The pedestrian bridge will make things significantly better for the west side of Northgate, and that will increase their desire to go to Northgate and the Northgate Link station.

      1. Mike Orr: NTC will be the main North Seattle transit hub, as it has been for decades. Routes 345, 346, 347, and 348 may continue to operate as they have since fall 2003. The Metro planners are proposing that they run more often in the peak periods. At NTC, Route 345 changes its number to 348 and Route 346 changes its number to 347. The Metro, ST, and CT proposals will significantly increase the service at Northgate. NTC will continue to be connected to Licton Springs by routes 26, 40, 345, and 346 under the current proposed network. The NTC is shifting one block west to minimize the walk for bus-Link transfers.

    2. In working through this, do you find the Northgate TC will be becoming an much less important transit transfer hub once a Lynnwood Link opens?

      I wouldn’t say that. I would just say that other hubs will catch up. Right now, the future Roosevelt Station is a minor hub. The only really frequent bus is the 67 (which also serves Northgate). Even the obvious corridor (to Lake City) has only half hour frequency. In the middle of the day, getting to downtown is a slow trip, requiring a transfer. That will change once Link gets there.

      Should we even have a North Seattle transit hub if bus frequencies are better, and instead have each route cross Link at the most logical station as a through route? Should bus layover/ driver break locations be at the end of a route as opposed to a Link station?

      Sometimes a bus should layover at Northgate, sometimes is shouldn’t. From a ridership perspective, there is value in having good ridership at the terminus (I can’t find the Jarrett Walker link, but he writes about this). Normally the end of a line has poor ridership, because there is only one direction to go. Ending at Northgate solves that problem.

      It also gives Metro flexibility. You could extend the 40 all the way to Lake City, and many would find that wonderful. But the bus would be extremely long, which means it would be unreliable. There would be more bus bunching, and you might run into rider fatigue. In an ideal world the Link station would be up on Northgate Way, but since the buses will deviate to serve Link, having a transit center there is useful.

      Of all the stations north of the Ship Canal, it appears to have the least direct east-west connectivity to me and the advantage of I-5 direct access ramps seem to go away upon Lynnwood Link’s opening.

      Yes, absolutely. That is a major weakness of the station, and it is why I believe the Roosevelt Station will steal some of its thunder.

      Finally, Northgate Mall has become a less important retail destination.

      If anything, the transition of the mall should increase transit ridership. Malls are overrated as transit destinations. They don’t employ that many people per square foot, and shoppers who are attracted to malls are more likely to drive there. In any event, ridership will be driven by the college, the medical offices in the area, as well as apartments. Many of the apartments are too far away to walk to the station. So a hub and spoke system (that exists now) is very good, and will save a lot of people time. But that can be overdone, which is why I changed the 67.

      I’ve thought about it a lot. I’ve considered going from one extreme to the other (lots of buses to Northgate, or very few). I’ve come to the conclusion that we should have something in between, which is why I put together this proposal. What Metro proposed earlier was very close to what should exist in the long term, even when Link adds a 130th station (which steals even more of Northgate’s thunder). We should have buses on each major corridor, connecting them. We should just avoid looping detours, like the 67. There should be service to Northgate, but it should be as direct as possible.

      That is why the 61 is so strong. It connects Greenwood to Lake City. That itself is a very worthy goal, especially since there are secondary transfer that are also dramatically faster (e. g. Lake City to Phinney Ridge, Lake City to Licton Springs). Along the way you have the college, the apartments and the clinics that make up greater Northgate. For folks in Lake City, the 61 is faster than the 41 (or new 75). For folks in Greenwood, it is much faster. The station is just a bonus, but a worthy one for those in Greenwood. Not only is it the fastest way to get to Link, but it doubles up frequency to Link (riders can take the 61 or 45, whichever comes first).

      Even after Lynnwood Link I expect Northgate to be a major hub, with more than one bus terminating there. But I expect most of the stations to be hubs, even if many (like 130th) don’t have buses ending there.

    3. This is getting into what is a transit hub. To me it’s a stop where riders transFER to a lot of other routes, and hopefully it’s at a neighborhood center so you can walk to a variety of destinations. Forget about bus layovers; that’s an internal operations issue, not something important to passengers. The layovers can be there or elsewhere.

      Park & Rides should ideally be outside transit hubs or neighborhood, even if that requires an additional station for them, because of their negative impacts on neighborhood centers. Only express routes or Link need to stop there. Nobody would drive to a P&R to take a local route, and walk-on passengers don’t particularly want to go to a P&R.

      1. This is getting into what is a transit hub. To me it’s a stop where riders transFER to a lot of other routes, and hopefully it’s at a neighborhood center so you can walk to a variety of destinations.

        I agree.

        I also think most transfer hubs are also destinations. Most destinations are also transfer hubs. For years downtown was *the* transfer hub for the region, but it was also the biggest destination. It remains so, while downtown Bellevue and the UW are both like that.

        With Link, there will be more places that are primarily transfer hubs. 130th and 145th will not be destinations. But they will be major transfer hubs, even if they are served by one bus and Link.

        As the system gets built out, I think Northgate becomes a bigger destination, and a smaller transfer hub. It becomes more like CHS. It is still a big transfer hub, but it is a bigger destination.

        Unlike other hubs, it is hard to serve. That is what Al is getting at. That is the main issue. At best it involves twists and turns to get there. At worst, the bus is forced from the easiest route in an attempt to both serve the station and cover the area. The 40, for example, not only has to backtrack to serve the station but it also goes along the side of the college. This means someone from Crown Hill, at 85th, has to go north, south, then north again to get to Northgate ( Instead of going 15 blocks north, they go a total of 33 blocks north, and 18 blocks south — almost two miles out of their way. Meanwhile, some of the more straightforward ways to serve the station doesn’t have any service. There is no bus on First Avenue, north of the station. Even 5th/Weedin, from the south, has no all-day service, and will soon have no service at all. I’m not saying I would do anything different with those routes — I’m just saying that Northgate’s location is awkward.

        This is why I find the removal of the 61 so frustrating. This is by far the strongest, most straightforward connection to Northgate. Lake City and Greenwood are high density and close to Northgate. Density plus proximity equals high ridership. The 61 is also the fastest way to get from Lake City to Northgate. It is by far the fastest way to get from Greenwood to Northgate. It is also the fastest way to get from Crown Hill to Northgate — those almost two miles of extra travel would be eliminated.

        There is a strong case to have buses serve Northgate, even though it is hard to serve. This makes it different than just about every north end station. Serving those other stations is much easier, even if there is less there.

        But at the very least we should serve Northgate with a bus that has the greatest potential — the one that has the most people, and is the fastest route. That is the 61.

      2. Yes this is what I am getting at.

        A classic transit transfer hub has the ability for many bus routes to both converge and lay over. Overlake, Renton and Mt Baker are examples. In areas with infrequent buses, timed transfer hubs (a sometimes added feature) are very important. By having driver restrooms and more places to park buses, they often double as layover points.

        These are great bus system ideas — particularly where there aren’t nearby places to also easily transfer.

        The opening of frequent light rail changes things. New stations are not spaced miles from each other. The light rail offers frequent and reliable service at any station. Trains won’t be laying over unless the line ends at the station.

        It suggests to me that bus transfers at stations thus need to be thought of differently like being optimized for through routing. Driver break spots may also need to move out of a station to the non-station end of the route where possible.

        To be clear, I’m not viewing Northgate to go away as a transfer point. I’m simply observing that the advantage of routing many bus routes to Northgate a mile or two away and laying over a bus there seems to become less important and could be a huge time waste for both riders and driver salaries. It may also be valuable to have it serve as a hub in low-use times like at 9 pm on a Sunday evening.

        Since I don’t live in North Seattle, I can’t comment on the specifics as much as I can make general observations. That’s why my comment is somewhat in the form of a question about Northgate specifically.

      3. OK, yeah, I understand what your saying. North of downtown, Link runs through the center of the city in a north-south direction. As such, it would make sense to have stations at major east-west corridors, with east-west buses passing by the stations. The northern terminus would be a major transit center, as buses from the north converge onto it. As the line moves further north, the new terminus takes over that role, and the old one transitions to be more like the rest of the stations.

        Part of that is true. For a few years, there will be buses coming from the north that terminate at Northgate. In my opinion, there should be more (I think all of the CT express buses should end there). But once Link gets to Lynnwood, those buses don’t go there — they either serve Lynnwood Link (from the north) or they go east-west and pass by a station.

        But as for the rest of it, you are basically describing Vancouver. Look at what Jarrett Walker has called an “almost perfect grid” ( [Side Note: I was trying to find the article about “anchoring” and it turns out it is in this one.]

        Anyway, you can see why SkyTrain works so well in this regard. The stations are located on all the major arterials, about 800 to 1000 meters apart. Thus the buses just run east-west on those arterials, and people can walk to them. Grid city.

        Unfortunately, our system isn’t so elegant. Part of the problem is the roadways. There are large distances between east-west arterials. The freeway doesn’t help either. It is easy to imagine a station at 80th for example. But crossing buses would have to deal with freeway traffic, and much of the walkshed would be eaten up by the freeway. You also have the problem of station placement — some of the stations are not on these major east-west arterials.

        Northgate Station is a great example of all these problems. There is a huge distance between Northgate and Roosevelt Station. If there were nothing but east-west buses in the area (serving those stations) then lots of people would be too far away from a bus. Northgate Station isn’t on the arterial (Northgate Way). While it would be better if it was, it wouldn’t solve all of the problems in the area. That would make the distance between stations even further. And even if you added a station half way between, you can’t run an east-west bus — the street grid doesn’t allow it.

        We are stuck with what we have. Northgate Station sits south of a big corridor (Northgate Way) and well north of 65th. Buses on Northgate Way need to curve to serve a station, and the areas in between needs some sort of service. That’s why the bus network is so challenging, and why Northgate Station actually makes sense as a terminus (for some buses). Basically, you gain very little by through-routing. For example, the 40 could be extended to Lake City. But that means a huge detour for folks trying to get from the west end of Northgate Way to the east end of Northgate Way. So fewer riders are likely to through-route, given a delay like that. You might as well layover. You also have the areas in between. Fifth, for example, has a lot of apartments, most of which are just too far of a walk from the station. You gain a lot by having buses converge for very frequent service connecting them to the station.

        By no means do I think that all buses should layover there. The 61 is a great example of a bus that shouldn’t. Unlike *most* of the buses that serve the station, there isn’t much of a detour to serve Northgate. According to Google, it adds one minute of driving to use 92nd. Thus the station can be considered “on the way”, which is different than most routes serving Northgate. The 61 would definitely have a lot of through-riders (from Greenwood to Lake City) as it is a perfectly reasonable way to get there.

        I should also mention that layovers are tricky. Some of the existing ones aren’t ideal, but they are better than nothing. For example, the 41 lays over in Lake City, but ideally it would layover at 145th (since density drops after that). But having that layover spot is still a lot better than sending the bus to Kenmore.

        Thus a station like 65th is not a natural layover spot. It serves the major east-west crossing corridor. But no one is talking about extending the 522 west, down to Wallingford or up to Greenwood. It is a very good anchor, and in that respect, a good place for a long distance bus (like the 522) to layover. It is good that we have a layover spot like that — just as it is good that we have a layover spot at Northgate. There aren’t enough layover spots, really — which might be a good subject for a different post.

  3. I recommend that any Northgate Link restructure, off-peak, retain the 41 and reintroduce the offpeak-only 71-72-73 downtown express buses. If Sound Transit insists on keeping Link infrequent, then Metro cannot expect riders to transfer there and must compensate.

    If other buses need to be made less frequent to pay for it, so be it. Metro should publicly advertise two schedules – one for the present, and one to be introduced as soon as Sound Transit makes Link more frequent. In the meantime, riders should direct their complaints to Sound Transit.

    1. Keeping the 41 and reinstating the 71/72/73X would take so many service hours it would detract from north Seattle’s bus network. Telling people to blame Sound Transit is not a solution:. People need to get around and they can’t wait until ST restores Link’s 2019 frequency someday. What is somebody from Lake City going to Ballard supposed to do? Or somebody who lives in NE 75th Street? Or who is glad the 65/67 has such robust service? Or who is glad for the remaining frequency increases since 2015 even if some of them will be rolled bacK?

      Oh, and there’s congestion downtown and the DSTT is closed to buses. The 71/72/73X used to get caught in a significant traffic jam at least once a week, and a couple times a month the UDist-downtown segment stretched to 45 minutes or an hour due to traffic on I-5, the Stewart-Denny exit, and downtown. I used to ride through that every day. You might not notice it in the express lanes, but it was a lot worse in the reverse-peak direction.

      The 41 also gets caught in traffic southbound between 2 and 7 pm a lot. The difference between 10-minute vs 15-minute Link is less than that. And evenings, well, the streets are clear and the local buses reach a reasonable speed. If you don’t want to wait for Link Northgate-downtown maybe you can take the 40 or E. Or if you’re further south, the 62.

    2. From a political standpoint, I don’t think that will work. If you don’t truncate the buses, then riders will simply shrug. Their world hasn’t changed. If you truncate the 41, and people are sitting around a long time, they will blame Sound Transit. Even if they don’t — even if they blame Metro for the truncation — Metro can tell folks that only Sound Transit can improve the frequency of their trains.

      1. As a beginner’s question, in Seattle how far is a transit rider expected to walk to begin their transit journey, either on a bus or train, during the day and night? One block, a mile, half a mile?

        Second how many different forms of transit will a typical rider take to reach their ultimate destination? When Bellevue hosted a seminar on driverless shuttle technology the presenters stated most commuters will not take three forms of transportation to get anywhere, and that it is critical to understand that the first form of transit is from doorstep to first form of transit.

        I ask these questions because in many areas the only real first mile access is a park and ride, which is the first mile access, which means the bus or train that will take them to their ultimate destination needs to be there, not a bus to a train or another bus.

        So if park and rides are not part of transfer hubs then everyone’s final bus or train needs to originate there if they took a bus to get there.

        Otherwise the time commitment is too great.

      2. Average Americans will walk ten minutes to transit before they start thinking it’s a long walk and what other alternatives are there. If the line is high-quality like Link or a good RapidRide they’ll walk further, fifteen minutes or sometimes twenty. Beyond those you start losing people, and get only dedicated transit riders or poor riders who must make a trip and have no alternative. Ten minutes is a half mile or ten blocks (depending on the block size). It’s longer in other countries. A friend from Ireland who lived near NE 62nd Street thought nothing of walking to UW south of 45th Street. He said people in Ireland walk more and think nothing of a 30- or 45-minute walk. But if you try that with Americans, they’ll shun your lousy transit system.

        Likewise, the average transit or car commute is 20-25 minutes, and people start to think it long the more it goes over 30 minutes.

        You can combine these into walk circles and transit circles, looking at how many destinations and routes one can get from any point in 5, 10, or 20 minutes; or what they can get to on transit in 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes.

        “how many different forms of transit will a typical rider take to reach their ultimate destination?”

        Do you mean modes (bus, trolleybus, light rail, streetcar, etc) or seats (a two-seat ride has one transfer). Americans prefer one-seat rides but will somtimes take two- or three-seat rides. If we had higher frequency transit and more transit-priority lanes like Europe, people would be happier with multi-seat rides. As for modes, some Pugetopolans will only take Sounder and Link, others will take those and express buses, others will take all those and feeders. Link is predicated on having a lot of frequent feeders and hoping people will use them. If their overall trip quality is high, and total travel time is not too long, and they don’t have to wait more than 10-15 minutes, then the maximum number of people will be satisfied.

        Demand-response transit (Uber, taxis) is much less efficient than fixed-route buses. Even low-performing coverage routes like the 27, 50, 226, the eastern half of the 62, and the Southcenter-Fairwood van get ten riders per service hour or close to it. When I took it halfway from Southcenter to Ikea one Saturday afternoon, I counted eight people during that time, and the entire route’s length is about an hour. The 62 is also an hour, so the western half can subsidize the eastern half. Demand-response transit gets only 1-2 riders per hour. There’s the time driving back to the starting point or to the next pickup or waiting for one, and the meandering on custom streets. Via, a pilot shuttle in Rainier Valley from Link stations, got an impressive 3-4 people per hour. That’s twice as much as average but still less than half of a fixed-route bus.

        The upshot is we should have a lot more fixed-route lines. Mercer Island is a good example. I don’t know Mercer Island’s hills, but I could see a few all-day routes to the Link station, and I think Metro is planning that. (The site is but it’s down right now.) That will require funding, and the future countywide Metro levy, or Mercer Island stepping up with funding. I don’t know how many riders the previous Mercer Island local routes got. Judging from averages, if they were especially bad they might have gotten 5 per hour. But that’s just a guess. The ultimate reason they were deleted was the 550 and predecessors were not as frequent or reliable as Link, the local routes were infrequent, King County had a low threshold of investment for transit routes, and many islanders’ rejection of transit. But other cities have shown consistently that if you offer good transit, riders will come, even in the US.

        Regarding park & rides, what people need to understand is they’re very expensive. Cars and parking are subsidized much more heavily than transit, but we’ve arranged society so the cost is invisible to drivers, and everybody except the driver pays for the parking. Donald Shoup details this in “The High Cost of Free Parking”. Fifteen years ago surface lots cost $40K per parking space, and structured garages maybe 50% higher. Now we’re hearing quotes of P&Rs costing $80K or $130K per parking space. That’s where a lot of subareas’ money is going to.

        The ultimate culprit is the land-use policies that lock in low-density housing in single-use neighborhoods with cul-de-sac barriers. That’s what’s making it hard to serve everyone by transit. Mercer Island will need to have subsidized local routes, P&Rs, or changes in land use to reach a solution. I’m not opposed to Mercer Island buying the P&R and making it island-only. But the alternatives need to be considered based on the real cost of those parking spaces, not an imaginary token cost. Likewise, I’m not opposed to getting all Eastside feeders to go to South Bellevue, and pressuring Bellevue to not stand in the way if it is.

        If Link is running every 10 minutes to Redmond and Lynnwood as planned, then some islanders will find their way to it somehow. Good local routes would bring even more. Parking spaces can do that too, but there’s a tension between the number of spaces,the number of islanders, and the number of off-island drivers that I’m not going to get into because it’s outside my experience.

      3. As a beginner’s question, in Seattle how far is a transit rider expected to walk to begin their transit journey

        The short answer is 1/4 mile. Here is a long answer:

        the presenters stated most commuters will not take three forms of transportation to get anywhere

        Hmmm, I would like to know where the presenter got their data. It is a complicated question, with lots of variables. But it is common for people to take three forms of transportation to work. Commuter rail almost always works this way. Very few people live close to the suburban stations. The train only serves one part of downtown (not centrally located). It is quite likely that the majority of riders either drive or take a bus to the station, then take the train, then either transfer to Link or take one of the frequent buses that go to the rest of downtown. Many of the feeder buses also serve other park and ride lots. Thus it is quite possible that there a significant number of four seat riders (drive to the park and ride, bus, train, bus).

        The transfer penalty is real, but hard to measure, as there are many factors. Wait time, comfort, walking distance and alternatives all play a part. Many riders would prefer a one-seat ride over making a transfer, even if it is slower. On the other hand, riders prefer a transfer if they can avoid walking a long distance. There are studies that have measured this, but only in the context of transit and walking as the mode. In other words, they’ve studied whether people will take a longer transit trip or walk to avoid a transfer and how long those trips have to be. But I don’t know of any study that looks at ridership (i. e. how many riders will simply drive instead).

        On the other hand, we know that ridership goes up when frequency goes up ( — or if you prefer, just search for “transit ridership and frequency” and you’ll find a ton of articles).

        The problem is, we can’t have it all. We can’t spend a bunch of money providing people with one-seat rides, while also increasing frequency. Nor can we build a network with straightforward, linear trips (another key to ridership: There are trade-offs.

        The transfer penalty is real. It costs ridership. This, by the way, is often misunderstood. Jarrett Walker wrote an excellent article mentioning how transfers can be good ( and people took it to mean that there is no transfer penalty. That is simply not true. His point is that the transfer penalty is not as bad as other penalties.

        That is why, for example, in that article completely about ridership, he doesn’t mention transfers. In contrast, he mentions four concepts that are key elements to my design: Frequency, linearity, diversity and proximity. Frequency comes from having a more efficient system — avoid costly peak-only service ( and building more of a grid ( Linearity involves routes like the 61. It takes the fastest (most linear) route from Greenwood to Northgate, or Northgate to Lake City. Even a trip from Greenwood to Lake City is fairly linear, deviating only slightly (where other routes make huge loops). The 61 shows up high on the diversity scale as well. It serves a range of uses — those going to school at NSCC, going to work at Lake City, visiting a clinic at Northgate or just visiting friends at Greenwood. Proximity matters, and those proximate neighborhoods would be tied together better than ever.

        So basically we may lose some riders by asking them to make an additional transfer. But we will lose a lot more if we try and cater to them by building ridiculously expensive park and ride lots, or highly specialized, costly buses to South Lake Union and First Hill. We just don’t have enough money chasing after a few riders when there are plenty more that we could gain if we focus on ridership using the principles Walker explained.

  4. Thank you for the excellent summary.

    Your reasons Mercer Islanders didn’t take intra-Island transit are pretty good, except the frequency of the 550, and 554, was good, and it was popular until the 550 was eliminated from the transit tunnel.

    But Mercer Island is quite steep, especially along the perimeter, and it is hard for even fit residents to get up their steep drives to catch a feeder bus. Metro closed the feeder bus that travelled the perimeter of Mercer Island due to low ridership. The 204 that runs south to north has the problem there is little to no park and ride space at the south end, or other stops along the way.

    Mercer Island’s number one request during all of East Link was to control its own park and ride. The majority of citizens supported East Link originally, even though they were losing preferential access to the center roadways, but opposed the loss of SOV access at Island Crest Way, and until ST discovered post-tensioning would require the rails to be elevated across the bridge span which made the center roadway incapable of different forms of transit).

    One irony is the elimination of buses across the bridge span when East Link opens will likely convert the HOV lane into a general purpose lane since it makes no sense to segregate an entire lane on an interstate to 2+ HOV cars, so the whole fight over SOV access might have been unnecessary ( except of course if eastside cities balk at ending express buses to Seattle, and requiring their residents to take a bus to Mercer Island to catch a train which is what I think will happen).

    ST claimed it could not grant preferential treatment for park and rides based on geography, or charge for parking, then reversed course and began renting out stalls, except the combined cost of round trip bus fares and $120/month for reserved parking priced out the one person transit is suppose to serve, whereas everyone else on MI drives to work. My guess is ST will offer sole control over the park and ride on Mercer Island in exchange for a more intense bus intercept. Better than reneging on the promise to Bellevue the S. Bellevue park and ride station would not serve as an intercept for these areas outside Bellevue. ST is terrified of Bellevue, not so much MI.

    You are correct that the building boom and price increases for concrete have increased park and ride costs. ST now estimates $115,000/stall (private contractors estimate around $85,000/stall). But for transit to work in east King Co. you need park and rides. They may seem expensive except feeder buses are too in east King Co., and running rail is much less expensive on the eastside, and the eastside subarea has all the money. The difference between Seattle and most of east King Co. is citizens don’t walk. Period. Especially the women. On the way to the park and ride they drop off kids and run errands, and same on the way home. They want to drive to a park and ride to catch a bus or train, not stand outside waiting for a bus.

    One thing that will never happen in the suburbs and eastside voluntarily is changing the zoning in the single family neighborhoods, certainly for transit when most don’t use or favor transit, and think it is a huge subsidy for low income Seattleites. Single family zoning is the entire purpose the residents moved to the eastside. If there is one thing missing from this blog is any perspective from east King Co., although that subarea has all the money.

    HB 1923 attempted to mandate Seattle style zoning statewide, but the blowback from the eastside was too great, so it became voluntary. The irony is all the suburban cities decided to not change their zoning (because they knew this was just the Master Builder’s Assoc. trying to upzone the large lot suburban neighborhoods), whereas rural county councils like Snohomish Co. that had been fighting the GMA over density on rural lands for decades finally got their wish: the ability to upzone every single lot (many of which are 5 acres minimum) from one legal dwelling to three, and the local codes allow huge houses. Now Snohomish County wants the GMA amended to allow this new zoning to apply to even more rural lands. What an unintended political and environmental disaster.

    Whenever you see the Democrats in bed with Forterra and the Master Builders Assoc. like on 1923, you know something is amiss, and 99% of the time the Democrats get played.

    Having been 11 when my family moved from Seattle — despite being a third generation Seattle family — to Mercer Island for many of the same reasons today, I think Seattle’s recent changes to its residential zoning will, in the long term, be the most destructive thing Seattle has done. Already 21% to 23% of all K-12 kids are in private schools, and no one is very progressive when it comes to their kids, or there wouldn’t be an eastside. That 21% to 23% is prime to move to the eastside because private schools in Seattle, even elementary level, run $20,000/student, plus the hassle of getting the kid to school because Metro is too dangerous. Zoning in the residential neighborhoods on the eastside is the third rail of politics. The eastside subarea has the money for park and rides, except ST hates the idea since it foolishly thought light rail and transit would kill the car, because no one at ST lived in east King Co.

    1. If Mercer Island wants full control of the P&R, it needs to buy it. Countywide and subarea-wide taxpayers can’t fund a P&R that discriminates against them; that would be like saying non-islanders can’t board Link at Mercer Island Station. The space-subscription options are, I understand it, open to all who pay the fee. Or is it really islanders-only? In any case, the space-subscription model is an innovative way to address the tragedy of the commons without charging everyone, for whatever it’s worth, as a stepping stone to eventually charging everyone. And it also solves the problem of people driving to a P&R not knowing whether it’s full, and if it is full, driving to another P&R, raking up the vehicle miles driven and adding to congestion.

      Yes, people moved to the Eastside for a single-family house in a low-density neighborhood, but that’s no longer an option for their children or new residents because all the land is full. It just leads do an ever-shrinking percentage of the residents who can do that, those who bought their houses decades ago or can pay the inflated prices. It’s not fair to privilege them above everybody else, espeecially in neighborhoods adjacent to downtown Bellevue (Surrey Downs, West Bellevue, Vurecrest, Clyde Hill). That forces an ever-increasing percent of the population to leapfrog over them to commute to their small condos/apartments. This doesn’t apply directly to Mercer Island: we don’t need a multifamily island with steep hills. But we do need a higher-density station area in a small part of Mercer Island.

      California also failed to pass a statewide upzone around high-capacity transit stations. But sometimes things fail a few times and then pass, as marijuana legalization did. The government can’t ignore the housing shortage and scarcity-inflated prices and cost-burdened residents forever. It not only endangers their health but their ability to be self-sufficient and pay taxes, and the stress leads to a variety of social problems.

    2. Feel free to write a Page 2 article(s) on your ideas about Sound Transit, solving the last-mile problem on Mercer Island, or other topics. That would allow us to discuss them more extensively, and would give greater visibility to your ideas. Several politicians you’d recognize and transit-agency staff read STB even if they rarely say anything (due to conflict-of-interest/ethics/political issues), and they’re more likely to notice a Page 2 headline than a comment buried in a 100-comment thread.

      1. I really do appreciate the educated posts on this blog although I am new to it. I lived in Seattle until age 11 when in 1970 my family — along with a huge portion of Seattle — moved to the eastside, but spent 7 years of college and post-graduate living in just about every Seattle neighborhood (Roosevelt, Queen Anne, Meridian, house boat, Ravenna, Pike Place Market) many years after that before moving with my wife to MI. I have worked in downtown Seattle since 1988, although the changes in Seattle will likely lead our firm to move to the eastside when our lease is up in 2022.

        Mercer Island is thrilled to have a light rail station, and the eastside subarea has plenty of money to run a line to Redmond despite the lack of density on much of the line, due in large part to the terrible traffic congestion on 405 and 520. However 83% of all trips off Island from Mercer Island are by car, and that was before Covid-19.

        Our two biggest problems are we have no first/last mile access to the light rail station because we have no intra-Island transit and our park and ride is full by 7 am with off Islanders (ST did not even include any covered, secured bike storage at our TWO light rail stations), and when we lost SOV access from Island Crest Way to I-90 westbound that rerouted 1100 peak SOV’s through the town center on the same road the bus intercept will go, past the entrance to the park and ride.

        The solution for MI is:

        1. In 2023-24 when East Link opens, the intercept (truncation) system will eliminate buses across the bridge span (unless areas not served by East Link like Issaquah — whose mayor sits on the ST board — or Renton object to having their commuters bused to Mercer Island to catch a train), so it makes little sense to designate an entire lane of I-90 to 2+ HOV.

        At that point the lane could convert to a general purpose lane, especially if post Covid-19 traffic volumes are down, which would allow Mercer Island SOV access from Island Crest Way to I-90 westbound (the FHWA already approved this in 2016 but Seattle and ST objected). This would then remove nearly 1100 peak SOV’s from North Mercer Way, the same road the bus intercept must use.

        2. The Mercer Island park and ride has around 453 stalls. However 53% are used by off-Islanders, and the lot is filled by 7 am, which makes it impossible for parents (usually moms) who have to drop off kids at schools first from getting a stall, and impossible to reserve a spot for part time, like for a doctor’s appointment.

        The main reason the MI park and ride was popular with off-Islanders is the 550 stopped there, which used to access the transit tunnel and did not go to areas near Renton, and 550 buses were quite frequent. Metro slashed intra-Island transit on Mercer Island because our steep driveways and access drives make it difficult to get to the road to catch a bus. And in suburbia residents carry around a lot of stuff on the way to the station, like kids, and need to drive to do errands like grocery shopping on the way home.

        As part of Mercer Island’s terrible mitigation package with ST Mercer Island received a $4.5 million match from ST to build commuter parking. However Mercer Island must pay the entire $9 million to build and complete the commuter parking first before ST will reimburse its 1/2 ($4.5 million) if MI is to reserve the parking for Islanders. Mercer Island does not have the $9 million.

        At one point many years ago Mercer Island was given the opportunity to buy the park and ride, but passed on that not wanting the maintenance costs. Big mistake. Now ST claims it cannot legally reserve spots based on geography (although no one has cited the law prohibiting that), but it can reserve spots based on a parking fee. However at $120/month the fee is too high for the transit rider transit is suppose to serve when combined with round trip bus fares, and few signed up before Covid-19.

        Originally ST planned to continue the express buses to Seattle from areas not served by East Link, until it realized it would never come close to its projected ridership estimate of 50,000 riders/day in 2030. So it came up with the bus intercept system in which anyone crossing the bridge span would be on a train, and ST would count riders at that point. According to Metro this would save Metro $1.5 million/year, when the express buses to and from Seattle the eastside subarea pays 100% of will cost nearly $1 billion by the time East Link opens.

        The “intercept” buses (apparently called truncation on the west side) were to go to Mercer Island and the S. Bellevue park and ride. If Mercer Island were to handle all the buses — around 20/peak hour that would turn around on Mercer Island — the station design would have been much different. But Bellevue balked at serving as an intercept for these non-Bellevue riders, and Bellevue gets what Bellevue wants with ST.

        Plus Issaquah, which is much more powerful politically than Mercer Island, does not want to serve as the sole bus layover area for Metro bus driver breaks, which would park two articulated buses on each side of North Mercer Way 20 hours/day, along with the 1100 SOV’s per peak hour trying to access I-90 westbound, a 453 park and ride, and a bus in each direction every three minutes during peak hours on North Mercer Way.

        Recently ST began to charge for park and rides to reserve a stall. Most were priced at $80/month although Mercer Island was priced at $120/month. If ST would allow Mercer Island to reserve stalls at $80/month and use the $4.5 million parking match for the monthly charge Mercer Island could charge its residents a more reasonable $3/day and pay the other $3/day or so, and the $4.5 million would last around 25 years for 200 reserved stalls Mercer Is. could then allocate to its citizens. The other 253 would remain first serve.

        Right now ST and MI are gearing up for litigation over the bus intercept. ST wants Mercer Island to serve as the “optimal service configuration” that would allow two articulated buses to be parked on each side of North Mercer Way up to 20 hours/day, and allow drop offs on the north side of North Mercer Way (which is prohibited in the 2017 settlement agreement) so it can handle up to 20 articulated buses per peak hour.

        Pick ups would then be across the street next to the light rail stations on the south side of North Mercer Way. Without drop offs on the north side of North Mercer Way ST and pick ups on the south side of North Mercer Way the number of buses per hour is limited to around 8-10 just due to the logistics of unloading and loading a bus, plus there is not room to park buses.

        There is a great deal of animosity on Mercer Island towards ST. Islanders feel ST duped our naïve former mayor who signed off on the SEPA permits without a written mitigation package in good faith, the same SEPA permits other cities used to obtain tens of millions in tunnels and cash, and then conspired with WSDOT to eliminate our SOV access from Island Crest Way.

        Plus many on Mercer Island think Mercer Island’s bedrock mission is a single family, rural feeling, residential neighborhood for folks who drive, and they don’t want any off-Islanders coming to MI, and would rather bond the $4.5 million to match ST’s $4.5 million and build our own park and ride. Crime is a very big issue on Mercer Island. The optimal service configuration could bring up to half the Island’s population from off-Island each weekday, and all those riders will bring issues (plus there are no bathrooms for riders who will be taking three forms of transit to get to Seattle).

        So Mercer Island will litigate this forever if it has to, and the council has to if it wants to pass future levies, and this time has the upper hand because the settlement agreement ST drafted prohibits drop offs on the north side of North Mercer Way which is critical for the “optimal service configuration”.

        To be honest, I doubt this is ST’s biggest problem. I also doubt post Covid-19 ST’s crazy future rider projections have any relevance. I also think when East Link opens numbers will be depressed for a long time (luckily the eastside subarea is cash rich), and cities like Issaquah and Renton will demand express buses to Seattle. Otherwise their residents who have to drive to a park and ride anyway will skip the bus and drive directly to Mercer Island, or Bellevue’s two main park and rides, which Bellevue does not want.

        So I am not sure there will be 20 buses per peak hour on Mercer Island anyway, despite what is agreed to.

        If I were the Mercer Island council I would push for an agreement to help obtain the SOV access to I-90 westbound since that benefits everyone, allow Mercer Island to reserve 200 park and ride stalls with the $4.5 million matching settlement funds, agree to two buses parked on NMW (I doubt there is room for four anyway), and call it done.

        But as in any litigation there are animal spirits, and a lot of pent up animosity, so it would take a very skilled mediator and the involvement of Bellevue and Issaquah, and maybe Claudia Balducci who has ignored Mercer Island, because ST will do whatever Bellevue tells it to do.

      2. So, anyway, there is a very simple reason why Metro (who runs most of the I-90 buses) will likely send the I-90 buses to Mercer Island: It is faster and more consistent. A bus can stay in the HOV lane the entire way (including the exit ramp). In contrast, the South Bellevue Park and Ride doesn’t offer that.

        In contrast, for 405 buses, it is trickier. An express bus from say, New Castle, has two choices. It can go to downtown Bellevue, or go to South Bellevue Park and Ride. It doesn’t make sense to make the turn and go to Issaquah (even though it is a bit of hub). That being the case, the choice is simple: go to downtown Bellevue. For many, this will be their first choice. For others, what you lose in time to Seattle, you more than make up for in frequency. Not that there are that many of these buses — which proves my point. The choice for many of these low density areas is an express bus to downtown Bellevue or nothing at all.

  5. You list a lot of history that I don’t remember. Maybe Mike can (he seems to be the local transit historian). Specifically:

    1) Originally ST planned to continue the express buses to Seattle from areas not served by East Link.

    Really? That seems weird. In the past, Sound Transit was upset that Metro didn’t truncate the Rainier Valley buses, so it seems weird that Sound Transit would fail to truncate. Anyway, only one ST bus would be in that category — the 554. It is mostly Metro buses that run by Mercer Island.

    2) The “intercept” buses (apparently called truncation on the west side) were to go to Mercer Island and the S. Bellevue park and ride. If Mercer Island were to handle all the buses — around 20/peak hour that would turn around on Mercer Island — the station design would have been much different.

    Folks fought over the design of the Mercer Island station. But I think Metro (which is not under Sound Transit) always planned on sending the I-90 buses to Mercer Island.

    3) But Bellevue balked at serving as an intercept for these non-Bellevue riders, and Bellevue gets what Bellevue wants with ST.

    I’ve never heard that. I don’t think Bellevue will mind if South Bellevue is used as an intercept. They are certainly excited about all of those buses headed to downtown Bellevue. In general, my guess is Bellevue leaders would be thrilled if the Bellevue Transit Center serves as the second biggest transit hub in the region (right now it fights for that title with the UW, and my guess loses).

    4) Plus Issaquah, which is much more powerful politically than Mercer Island, does not want to serve as the sole bus layover area for Metro bus driver breaks, which would park two articulated buses on each side of North Mercer Way 20 hours/day, along with the 1100 SOV’s per peak hour trying to access I-90 westbound, a 453 park and ride, and a bus in each direction every three minutes during peak hours on North Mercer Way.

    Where do they layover now? I would assume that a typical rush hour Issaquah bus starts in Issaquah, goes downtown, comes back, then lays over in Issaquah. This happens in the morning and evening. In the evening the bus might stop at that first bus stop a long time (if the deadhead trip was faster than expected) but I’m guessing that how it worked. In the future, it would likely work the same way. So you really wouldn’t have a full layover at Mercer Island — more like just a wait, at the bus stop, if the bus got there too soon. I don’t think this is a big issue, though, as the bus travels in HOV lanes the whole way.

    Any, Mike, if you care to comment, I would like your opinion on the history.

    1. As I posted before, Mercer Island always accepted the fact Metro and/or ST would send eastside regional buses to MI after East Link opens, and there would be a round about on Mercer Island for the buses to turn around so they did not have to continue to Seattle. After all we have buses today doing the same although they continue into Seattle. The buses would take off-Islanders to and from the rail station, and take a few Islanders east to areas not served by East Link (around 175 Islanders/day). The issue is the number of buses, and parking two buses on each side of NMW.

      ST originally offered Mercer Island the “limited (which it titled “original” in the beginning because it was consistent with the 2017 settlement agreement) service configuration as part of the three configurations it offered to MI. This does not require drop offs on the north side of North Mercer Way (the light rail stations are on the south side), or parking buses on either side of North Mercer Way, which limits total buses per hour to around 6-10 depending on how fast you can totally unload and load a bus, including the disabled. If that is still the offer end of story and litigation.

      But Metro (which is not a party to the settlement agreement although they are to be consulted on operations but not the terms of the settlement agreement) demanded the “improved” and/or “optimal” service configurations, which require drop offs on the north side of North Mercer Way in order to accommodate 16 and 20 articulated buses per peak hour respectively, and parking two articulated buses on each side of North Mercer Way which is not allowed under the settlement agreement, without any additional compensation.

      That’s it in a nutshell. Of course this was all pre-Covid. Mercer Island will argue to a court it accepts ST’s limited/original service configuration offer, which is consistent with the 2017 settlement agreement ST drafted.

      Personally I think a more elegant solution that benefits both sides better is possible, but there is bad blood. If Bellevue was willing to take some of the buses for the intercept from cities outside Bellevue, again we would not be having this discussion.

      It very well could be academic after Covid-19 anyway. Even if Mercer Island agreed to the improved or optimal service configuration there may never be 16-20 buses per peak hour, and cities like Issaquah and Renton will demand express buses directly to Seattle rather than offloading on Mercer Island to catch the train.

      Otherwise I think Bellevue’s two main park and rides next to rail stations and Mercer Island’s park and ride will feel real pressure from commuters to Seattle who don’t want to take a bus to Mercer Island to catch a train. It is also very possible the HOV lane will convert to a general purpose or HOT lane after East Link opens, which solves SOV access on Mercer Island.

      All that leaves for Mercer Island is more commuter parking. We could bond the $4.5 million to match ST’s $4.5 million match (and already have the site ready next to the station although the project that included a performing arts center is on hold), and build a structure that holds somewhere between 100-200 stalls.

      It isn’t the end of the world, and I am sure ST and Metro have bigger issues, although they are very, very arrogant to work with, which makes things unnecessarily complicated for Mercer Island’s council.

      Knowing ST from the past, my guess is egos will get involved, the issue will be litigated, MI will win, Bellevue will be pissed but will take the extra buses, the HOV lane will convert when East Link opens, the bus layover area will be somewhere east of MI, and Islanders will bond the $4.5 million to match ST’s $4.5 million.

      Hardly a big issue in the scheme of things when I read the drastic transit cutbacks on this blog. Mercer Island will be fine. We don’t even like transit, but know it is a public good if the goal is mobility for those who can only afford transit. If traffic congestion remains light after Covid-19 passes that will be the best thing for Mercer Island in the big picture. Quite frankly I have very little knowledge of transit outside Mercer Island’s tiny issues, and will leave that up to others, although I do know it begins and ends with money.

    2. I never heard of Bellevue objecting to a South Bellevue intercept, or of an original plan to keep all express buses going to Seattle. Link was decided first, and it explicitly replaces the 550. The other routes were left undecided; continuing to Seattle was simply the default option. The first I heard of a plan for the bus routes was some preliminary concepts in January 2016, ST Express in ST2, and Metro’s long-range plan from around that time. I was surprised that all ST scenarios truncated all routes and had none going downtown. The 554 in those concepts terminated at Bellevue Downtown. That may be what Bellevue objected to, both because the transit center would be over capacity and it would add to congestion near city hall and the highrises. Metro was not part of this; it was left undecided whether Metro would intercept at South Bellevue or Mercer Island.

      The arguments for Mercer Island is it’s more in-line for Seattle and the station is next to the freeway. South Bellevue is a shorter distance but buses have to detour a way off the freeway. Going to Seattle, South Bellevue requires backtracking, while going to Bellevue, Mercer Island requires backtracking. When I lived in Somerset during high school I took the 210 to Mercer Island and transferred to the 226 back to Bellevue HS and it was quick and convenient, but I can see people not wanting to do it. So as far as I know, those were the reasons for the plans evolving as they did.

      Metro’s long-range map has been offline for days, and the current Metro Connects site doesn’t seem to have one, so I’m not sure if it will be back.

      I don’t understand the issues about North Mercer Way bus layovers or street configuration or the Mercer Island litigation issues to comment on those. My knowledge is what I see from a bus seat or in hearings and open houses and in the news. And most of the hearings I attended were in 2012-2016, during the recession cuts and the run-up to ST3.

      Truncation is the general term for shortening bus routes, especially redirecting them to an intercept rather than going downtown. Intercept may be a more common term for South Bellevue or Mercer Island, but it’s just looking at the same thing from a different perspective.

      Regarding express buses from Renton to Mercer Island, that must mean the 111, which only reaches northern Renton and also serves Newport Hills. The 101 and 102 go directly from Renton to Seattle via I-5.

  6. If Bellevue was willing to take some of the buses for the intercept from cities outside Bellevue, again we would not be having this discussion.

    What makes you think Bellevue is not willing to take more buses? So far, you’ve provided no evidence. We know, for a fact, that Mercer Island doesn’t want buses going there, but it is quite possible that Bellevue doesn’t care. For that matter, it is quite likely that Bellevue *wants* buses to go to Bellevue. The 405 BRT plans involve lots of buses going to downtown Bellevue, from both directions. So far as I know, they want this. Its good for business, and unlike Mercer Island, they aren’t afraid of people from scary places like Issaquah.

    We also know that Metro wants to use Mercer Island. That’s because they know it is better for *riders*. It has nothing to do with petty politics. It is about faster, more efficient transit — the whole reason we spent a bundle on the light rail line in the first place. Riders going to Eastgate, Bellevue College or Issaquah don’t want to have to detour to South Bellevue Station. They want the fastest route, which is Mercer Island.

    You also can’t send some of them there, and some of them to South Bellevue. That would be much worse. The buses that go to Issaquah all serve the Eastgate Station (which is not that far of a walk to Bellevue College). If some of the buses go to South Bellevue Station, and some go to Mercer Island, then it is a huge mess — eastbound riders wouldn’t know what station to use.

    Oh, and are you suggesting the HOV lane get converted west of the island, or are you saying the whole thing gets converted to general use. Because if the whole thing gets converted, it would mean buses couldn’t easily serve it from the east — at which point there is little reason for the station in the first place.

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