SDOT’s plan for replacing 4,800 cars per hour that used the West Seattle Bridge at peak includes 1,280 more people per hour riding buses in the peak direction. Once Covid has receded to the point that most people are returning to work, how feasible is this?
That’s a little under 11 full articulated buses over what was running the bridge in 2019, or a 42% increase in people. The July 2020 draft SDOT framework comes up with a bunch of ideas:
Routes from Admiral, Fauntleroy, and/or Delridge directly to SLU, presumably via the SR99 tunnel and peak-only
The current bus network is focused on connecting to downtown. And with good reason: a single transfer hub maximizes the number of reachable destinations with the minimum transfer delay.
On the other hand, the document cites the low transit mode share of these trip pairs, presumably because of delays moving through downtown. A peak-oriented express may not be efficient, or contribute to the robustness of the entire network, but it does address the low-hanging fruit in a putative emergency.
“Capital improvements to ensure reliable transit pathways continue through midday time period providing available capacity and travel time savings… focused initially on improvements leading to the Lower Spokane Bridge”
No argument here!
“New/revised all-day east-west connections from West Seattle to Southeast Seattle, ” potentially including “vanpool and carpool matching;”
This is 9% of car trips from West Seattle. Metro doesn’t really serve this market today. While the 50 technically travels from Seward Park to Alki Beach, a time-consuming detour through Sodo makes it a last resort for traveling end to end. With everything using the low bridge, it ought to be fairly straightforward to set up new stops on Spokane St. for easy transfers up North. This would be a significant step towards a gridded network in one of the few corridors with a relatively straight East/West pathway.
Better pathways (routes and stops) to serve Harbor Island, Sodo, and the stadiums
This is another spot where almost everyone drives to work. Part of it is abundant parking and historically mild traffic. Plenty of bus routes run through here, so this is mostly about tweaking things to better serve job centers when there is no SOV alternative.
“Commuter rail service, like Sounder, across the Duwamish waterway”
Well, that would be plenty of new capacity… there’s track and suitable makeshift parking lots west of the bridge. Although it seems outlandish, if they are able to borrow some rolling stock and throw some money at BNSF, it might be feasible.
The real question is if the inevitably long headways would be attractive at all with such a short trip, especially with a bus going by on Spokane Street every few seconds. I doubt such a train would reach the speeds that make South Sounder such an appealing proposition.
The bus capital projects are a slam dunk. Tweaking routes and stops in Sodo is at worst harmless. The new bus routes may not pass the usual cost-benefit test, but may make sense if the City is paying over the odds to remove car trips from West Seattle. The SLU routes would do little for the network, but a straightened route 50 definitely would. They’re going to study commuter rail but I can’t believe this will pencil out, unless the lower bridge is so thoroughly mismanaged (or closed!) that the bus options are unattractive.