King County Metro has been and continues to be shutting down an unprecedentedly long list of routes while the virus sets its own long-term calendar, with new cases worldwide topping 300K daily.
And yet, like a bad zombie TV series, my silly bus stop in Georgetown that I rarely see anyone else use, persists. Yes, I’m talking about the loop-de-loop in the middle of route 107 that adds several minutes to other riders’ trips, almost certainly costing more ridership than it adds. Some of the business establishments that stop benefits are shuttered.
This expensive pimple of a bus stop is one of several throughout the Metro and ST system map that turn a relatively straight route into a milk run providing time-consuming off-arterial curbside service, some at facilities that are closed for the time being.
- The C Line and route 128 divert over to 44th Ave SW from California Ave SW to serve the port-a-potty and de facto transfer center at the Alaska Junction. These anti-transit block-circling exercises designed to get buses out of the way of cars really don’t belong in a city. Usually, they don’t even have a public facility.
- The F Line loops into Tukwila International Boulevard Station to save riders being dropped off a minute for getting to the bus bays and what is left of light rail service, while riders being picked up there would save time just waiting at an on-street stop on Southcenter Blvd, as was allowed during recent construction, demonstrating it can be done safely. The route serves Tukwila Sounder Station, even when no Sounder or Amtrak trains are coming, including on weekends and holidays. The route takes circuitous paths through the Renton Transit Center, which does not have bus bays directly on Logan Ave S.
- Route 8 diverts to 23rd Ave S between S Jackson St and S Yesler Way.
- Route 50‘s diversion to SODO Station has become a huge diversion to S Holgate St. Riders wanting to get to the VA inner loop from Link can use Columbia City Station, and let the route become the cross-town express it was originally meant to be. I suspect VA patients from West Seattle would appreciate that streamlining.
- Route 60 has a twisty diversion at the Arrowheads Garden bus stop, also known as Olsen-Meyer Park & Ride. The park & ride no longer functions as such, since route 113 has been suspended, and begs to be turned into additional mid-rise senior housing with first floor community or business space. The bus stop ideally would be on the street rather than in the middle of the facility, but the grade of the hill makes that a significant challenge. The bus stop could easily be moved so that the eastbound buses don’t have to do a gratuitous loop-de-loop, and could go reasonably straight through the lot, saving residents about half a football field of walking to the stop in the middle of the car sewer.
- Route 128 has a long loop on 16th Ave SW to serve South Seattle College. The college is offering some in-person classes, but remains mostly online. The college is also served by route 125.
- Route 132 scoliates through Boulevard Park to serve the Highline Medical Center Specialty Campus, on the way to Burien Transit Center. I’m not really wishing for the route to stop serving the HMC SC, but rather to make Tukwila International Boulevard Station its southern terminus. If I want to go to Burien from South Park, I take route 60 and transfer to route 120, as route 132 shows up randomly southbound.
- New route 165 will still loop into the Highline College Campus, like soon-to-be-eliminated route 166 does.
- Routes 221, 226, 245, and 271 do a loop around Bellevue College on the way to Eastgate Park & Ride. All classes and services are remote or online for the coming quarter.
- Routes 250 and 255 are cursed with having to serve the South Kirkland Park & Ride. The project, which features multi-story housing behind a big surface parking lot, is a monument to how to build transit-ruining development.
- Routes 345 and 346 add several minutes to most of their riders’ trips by overshooting Northgate Transit Center to serve North Seattle College, before crossing I-5 at N 92nd St and backtracking. The college has some services and classes on campus this fall, but very limited. One possible compromise is to have one of these two routes cross I-5 at Northgate Way. The Northgate Station pedestrian bridge to the far corner of the parking lot that surrounds and dominates the campus, and kills its walkshed, is just a year away. Housing for thousands could be built to replace all that surface parking, and put campus expansions on the lower floors.
- Route 347 diverts over to 5th Ave NE from 15th Ave NE between NE 145th St and NE 175th St. Route 348 cross over route 347 in that space.
This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but some of the best examples. Nor is it to suggest that the marginal service hours to serve these out-of-the-way stops are more than a rounding error in Metro’s budget. That is to say, if you are using the existence of small amounts of inefficiency like this in Metro as a reason not to pass an aid package at the city, county, state, or federal level, it is probably because you just don’t want to fund public transit.