A RapidRide at Bellevue Transit Center (Image: Oran Viriyincy)

Yesterday, King County Executive Dow Constantine transmitted the proposed Metro budget for 2021-2022. The budget eliminates several planned RapidRide expansions. Metro will dig into reserves to fund service, and will defer a planned increase in fares. The budget also funds a significant expansion of the electric battery bus fleet. The depletion of reserves sets Metro up for future service cuts unless new revenues can be found by 2024.

RapidRide

Metro will fund just three RapidRide expansions. The Metro Connects plan had suggested 13 lines by 2025, and this had already been reduced to seven by 2027. The still-funded expansions are the H line on Delridge, opening 2021; the G line on Madison, opening 2024; and the I line connecting Renton, Kent and Auburn in 2023.

The K line in Bellevue/Kirkland is cancelled, apparently having come up short against Renton on an equity analysis. Another line in East or South King County that had been scheduled for 2027 is also dropped.

Metro is cutting funding for the J line (to Roosevelt via Eastlake). But SDOT suggested Tuesday that they would attempt a scaled-back version of the project where the line would terminate to U District station instead.

Also unfunded is the R line on Rainier Ave, previously scheduled for 2024. The Executive indicated there would be a future effort to secure federal funds for this line, but didn’t say when that might happen.

Service Levels

The pace at which suspended service is restored will depend on demand as transit ridership recovers. The budget provides appropriation authority to bring service back, with the potential to restore nearly all the currently suspended service hours. This would be a reversal of staff briefings in June that saw further cuts in service through 2021 and 2022.

Bringing that much service back online would strain Metro finances, with reserves and fund balances depleted by 2024. Metro may be assuming a County ballot measure for more taxes to fund service beyond that date.

Even as service hours may return to near pre-COVID levels, Metro is in the process of identifying revised criteria for where that service will go, with a particular emphasis on routes serving communities with more low income riders or more Black, Indigenous and people of color populations.

Electrification

Despite the capital reductions elsewhere, the Executive highlights $270 million for electrification, starting with 40 buses and charging infrastructure in 2021-2022, and adding charging infrastructure for another 260 buses by 2028. The executive’s statement does warn that additional electrification investments will require new revenues or reductions in service levels. (As we’ve noted before, that’s always the implicit tradeoff being faced because charging infrastructure is so expensive).

Fares and Fare Enforcement

A planned fare increase is delayed until 2023, pending a review of fares across all transit modes and to allow economic conditions to improve. This will cause Metro to operate below the fare recovery goals in its financial policies. The budget funds a low-income annual pass, currently in pilot. That program will distribute about $30 million in fare value annually. An expanded version of the program seems likely to roll out along with a fare increase and the next generation ORCA card in 2023.

As signaled last week, fare enforcement is suspended through at least the end of this year, with a probable decision to redirect fare enforcement spending into free or reduced fares next year.

66 Replies to “Metro budget cuts RapidRide expansions”

  1. Metro is cutting funding for the J line (to Roosevelt via Eastlake). But SDOT suggested Tuesday that they would attempt a scaled-back version of the project where the line would terminate to U District station instead.

    That sucks. This leads to one of two bad outcomes:

    1) The 67 continues to run on Roosevelt until Campus Parkway. This splits coverage between 45th and 65th. The only bus on the Ave is the 45, and the only bus on Roosevelt is the 67.

    2) The 67 follows the 45, running on the Ave south of Ravenna Boulevard. This would mean no coverage on Roosevelt Avenue north of Campus Parkway.

    There is very little savings in service time. By the time the bus twists and turns to get over to the layover at 45th (wherever that is) the bus would have been most of the way to the previously proposed turnaround (67th).

    Riders will be worse off. If they keep with the current routing (as I expect they will) then the transfer from the 44 will be significantly worse. People along Roosevelt will have to make a transfer if they are just trying to stay on the same corridor. Frequency on both corridors — but especially the Ave — will be diminished. The connection to one Link station will be better, but there will be no connection to the other one. Since few people would be taking Link south from there, the overall time savings will be minimal (like the service savings). This also loses the connections at 65th. To get from East Lake to Lake City, for example, will either be a very time consuming two seat ride (the same round about route that exists now) or a three-seat ride (with the middle seat being the 45 or 67, which run on different corridors). Likewise, a trip to various parts of 65th will require a lot of walking, or be similarly awkward (https://goo.gl/maps/Jp12x444H65TMsFYA). It is worth noting that one of the options (waiting for the 73/373) will go away, as there will be no bus running on 15th NE between Ravenna and Lake City Way (https://pdfhost.io/v/CsvEzePNX_Phase_3_Network_Map.pdf).

    The original plan makes a lot more sense. It keeps the bus moving faster (along the main corridor — with very few turns). It provides frequent service for Roosevelt/12th, and allows for very frequent (doubled) service along The Ave. It minimized the transfer penalty for trips along 65th as well as Lake City Way (the latter likely to be one of the biggest transit corridors in the system in the future). Those that wanted to transfer to Link going south could walk a couple blocks, or simply wait until they get to Roosevelt Station. The 67 will stay on Roosevelt — and not go right by the station. That should be how the RapidRide I worked instead.

    1. Once 130th Station is open — e.g. about the time that the shortened K line would — a smart rider from Eastlake to Lake City will LOVE that “Z” routing. K line to UDS, Link to 130th, “330” to Lake City. Twenty minutes.

      1. It’s still a three seat ride (although hopefully Link will be frequent by then). Besides, using Roosevelt for that transfer (or any Link related transfer from the north) takes about as much time as using Roosevelt. A bus on Roosevelt/12th will go fast, while cutting over to 45th will be slow. Turns take time.

        Now imagine it was a three seat ride using Roosevelt Station. If you got off the bus there, and saw the Lake City Way bus approaching (towards the exact same bus) I would just take the bus. It really gets down to the frequency of each bus (the one serving 130th, and the one along Lake City Way). If they are the same, then most people would avoid Link. More than anything, extending the bus past 65th gives the rider flexibility — if the bus to Lake City is going to be there soon, just take that. Otherwise, take Link and hope the Bitter Lake to Lake City bus is there for you.

        Oh, and that assumes that you are going to “downtown Lake City”. If you are going to other parts of Lake City Way, 85th, 110th, etc., where there are a growing number of apartments, then you are stuck with a three seat ride, even though it is basically the same corridor the whole way (https://goo.gl/maps/eMH8ZtgGiJSFxaM67).

        Sending the bus to the UW would be justifiable if there were big savings to be had, but there aren’t. The proposed layover and turnaround spot for the J Line was extremely efficient. Because both streets are one-way, both turns are “free” (they can be done when the light is red). That is way easier than whatever Metro is forced to come up with a shortened line.

      2. A 3 seat ride in 20 minutes 🤔 ?

        That’s a very optimistic take on how long your “Z” ride from Lake City to Eastlake would take.

      3. Yes, switching to the 372 at Roosevelt — or whatever they call it then — is certainly a possible serendipity. But I doubt that it will be as frequent as Link or the “330” once 130th opens. I grant that it’s shorter via Lake City Way, but the first 2/3 of a mile south of 125th is often pretty slow going.

        In any case, I think you have seriously over-estimated the time it will take to turn right on 43rd and go two blocks to Brooklyn. Even if it had to be on 45th when the station opens there will certainly be a BAT lane eastbound that the J can use to get over to campus.

        I would not be at all surprised to see 43rd made transit and right turns only between 11th and 15th once UDS opens.

        There are lots of students who live along Eastlake as there always have been. Once the BRT opens Metro will terminate the 70; an express and a local trolley really can’t share wire unless there is a double set. So the students are going to have to take the BRT and walk if it keeps going on 11th and Roosevelt. The same thing is true north of 45th: the main all-day destinations from the apartments along the strip are The Ave and campus. Why not have a very frequent bus from South Campus to Roosevelt station that shares a pair of stops with the truncated J on 11th and Roosevelt, say at 42nd, for the minority of riders that are traveling between Eastlake and Roosevelt? If they’re 10 minute headways and scheduled to pass 42nd with the bus from the farther destination leading by three minutes, in most instances a rider starting from the bus with the larger collection area will step off, turn around and the continuing bus will be there within two minutes.

    2. This is a rare instance where my approach is different than that of RossB. The SDOT Roosevelt line to Roosevelt was the poor choice; it would be very costly. If Route 70 is branded instead, that would be good for the network; riders want short walks for transfers with Link and service close to the UW and the U District business district. RossB also understates the available service between the Roosevelt and Brooklyn Link stations; in addition to routes 45 and 67, routes 26 and 73 are proposed. The four routes or their successors could cover the arterials. Also note that the Ave and the Roosevelt couplet are quite close together. Transit flows better on the Ave; the Roosevelt couplet has more auto traffic.

      1. “the Ave and the Roosevelt couplet are quite close together.”

        They are, but the U-District is an urban center, Seattle’s second downtown, so parallel routes and closer stop spacing are more justified there because all the parallel routes will be full. When the U-District’s recent upzone is built out it will be centered on Roosevelt. The Ave, meanwhile, is one of those highly-successful pedestrian/transit corridors that developers can’t seem to make anymore. People who won’t take a bus in Wallingford or Greenwood or south Seattle will take a bus on the Ave. And the Roosevelt/UWay parallel is similar to 15th/24th parallel in Ballard, and most transit fans have argued that we need both the D and the 40. And the U-District is much bigger and denser than that.

      2. riders want short walks for transfers with Link

        Right, and the old route had that, at 65th.

        and service close to the UW and the U District business district

        Yet somehow the 67 doesn’t provide that, and is one of the most cost effective routes in our system. The 67 is in the top 25% of urban routes outside of rush hour, despite not running down the Ave (and despite the ridiculous button-hook in Northgate). More to the point, how can we justify the 67 staying on Roosevelt, but the 70 has to make that turn?

        RossB also understates the available service between the Roosevelt and Brooklyn Link stations; in addition to routes 45 and 67, routes 26 and 73 are proposed.

        Both are infrequent. Neither could be timed with any route combination to provide frequent service. Under the current plan if you are on the Ave, you have 15 minute frequency, and the occasional 73. If you are on Roosevelt, you have 15 minute frequency, and the occasional 26 — and then only if you are south of 50th. Neither corridor is frequent.

        Also note that the Ave and the Roosevelt couplet are quite close together.

        YES! Exactly. And the Roosevelt and Brooklyn (the Link station on 45th) are even closer together! It is quite reasonable for people to walk a couple blocks when making that connection, and if they can’t, they would simply stay on the bus and make the connection at 65th. Likewise, it is also quite reasonable for people to just walk a few extra blocks to a campus, that is quite large, where the primary mode of transport is of course, walking.

        Transit flows better on the Ave; the Roosevelt couplet has more auto traffic.

        Not if you have to cut over to access the Ave. That really gets to the heart of it. RapidRide J should be the only bus on Roosevelt. It avoids making turns in the part of town where it is extremely difficult and time consuming to make turns. Other buses (from the north) should cut over to the Ave, and serve it. That provides the overlap, with a minimal amount of turning. There are other ways to provide that overlap, but they are all more expensive.

        Oh, and adding bus lanes (to avoid traffic) is a major part of this (and every) RapidRide project.

        It is about making a fast an efficient system, even if some riders have to walk a few blocks. Twenty years ago, if asked to summarize Metro, someone would say “It is OK if you are headed downtown, but not very good otherwise”. That has now transitioned to “It is OK if you are headed downtown or the UW, or one of the Link stops”. What I want is a system that allows for a real network. I don’t want to have to take three buses to get from Lake City Way to Eastgate or Northgate to Greenwood (https://goo.gl/maps/g6hK4LW65FJxLkd28. To improve the system means that we have to make tough decisions, and sometimes that means riders have to walk a couple blocks. But if the buses avoid turns, then they can run faster, and if they run faster, it enables a better network.

    3. I don’t see how it’s worse than the status quo. The 70 simply becomes the I, with the only change being a couple blocks in the U-District to reach U-District Station. That change will already have to be done for the 70 anyway. The 45 and 67 continue as is. I never looked closely at the 67 in Metro’s 2025 plan, and the site has been down for days, but it doesn’t have to remain on Campus Parkway or move to University Way, it can turn on 43rd. In any case, Metro’s Northgate Link restructure round 3 suggests it will remain as is.

      I was always a bit uncomfortable with the I bypassing U-District Station to go straight to Roosevelt Station, because of the large ridership to the U-District and large demand for U-District Station. If you’re coming from Eastlake, you’re more likely to want to go a shorter distance to U-District Station. Going to 65th is a lesser bonus.

      As for the 67, even if it doesn’t have U-District Station it has Roosevelt Station. And for people north of 80th, they may be just as well off going the other way to Northgate Station.

      If I still lived on 56th I would experience the split between the 67 and I if the I is truncated at 45th. But I don’t consider it a major priority. It was more important for me to have a one-seat ride from there to 65th, 80th, Northgate, and 42nd — which the 67 does. If I’m going to Eastlake or SLU then I can take a frequent Ave bus to 45th and transfer.

      Your concerns about reduced Ave service seem unfounded. The Ave had in 2019 the 45, 71, and 73 (10-30-30 minutes). Currently it’s 15-0-30 minutes. You’ve been advocating shifting the 73’s hours to the 67, and we’ve both been advocating shifting the 71’s hours to anything else. This is the same as “only one route on the Ave, one on Roosevelt”. Metro has so far committed to frequent service on both the Ave and Roosevelt, and when it had funding it raised both of them to 10 minutes, so I suspect that’s still its goal.

      The I’s extension to Roosevelt I just don’t see as a major issue; it’s a minor benefit. The major benefit would come if it’s eventually extended to Northgate so there’s no split anywhere. Short of that I don’t see it as a major deal exactly where the split is. The fundamental problem is the I can’t both serve U-District Station and remain straight; it has to choose one or the other, and there are tradeoffs both ways.

      The one thing that gives me pause is you mentioned Lake City to Eastlake, and I know you’re concerned about Pinehurst to Eastlake. I don’t have as much experience with that since I’ve always lived south of 65th. But I do find it annoying to get from the south to 65th (a 2-seat ride), or from the south to the 62 (a 3-seat ride). So I can see how you’re having it in the reverse. It would be nice if the 522 continued to 45th so that it could transfer to the 44 and other routes, without requiring 65th-to-45th shuttling. That’s similar to what I felt taking the 50 from Seward Park to Columbia City, then having to take the 7 to Mt Baker to reach the 8. It would be nice if the 8 came a little further to reach the 50.

      1. I don’t see how it’s worse than the status quo.

        Its not. But the status quo sucks. We’ve waited for years for a decent transit network, and we keep being told “maybe later”. This is by no means the worst decision, or “watering down” of our system. But I am tired of being told “maybe later” about a First Hill Station, or a fast crossing route in the north end, or basically a solid network that will gain anything but middling rider-share.

        Your concerns about reduced Ave service seem unfounded.

        It is not reduced — it just isn’t what it should be. The area north of 45th is growing like crazy — on both Roosevelt/12th and the Ave. None of those streets will have frequent transit. None. At best you have ten minute service, but it should be double that. Here we are saying that some riders can’t walk a couple blocks, but other riders might have to wait ten minutes, or walk ten blocks.

        That corridor is ideal for an overlap. There are tons of people who live within the overlapped area, and both 65th and 45th are major destinations. 65th also is a major crossroads. So even if the overlap occurred by extending a Lake City Way bus to 45th (which is quite reasonable, especially given this decision) it still means a three-seat ride to the 65th corridor, as well as north Wallingford (Meridian/Tangletown). The 26 solves that problem, but it can’t justify high frequency, and is thus too expensive. It should be killed, and folks should “round the horn” to get there. Which is another problem — by keeping this line so short, we make it harder to get rid of the inefficient 26.

        I’m not saying there won’t be three-seat bus rides in the future. The geography and density make avoiding that difficult. But extending the 70 right up Roosevelt elegantly solved many of those problems in an elegant manner.

        If you’re coming from Eastlake, you’re more likely to want to go a shorter distance to U-District Station.

        Why? If you are headed north, using Roosevelt is just as fast. The bus avoids the turn and you are further up the line. If you are headed south, then you are worse off. But my guess is very few people are doing that. If you are trying to go from UW Station or Capitol Hill to Eastlake or South Lake Union, you are far more likely to go downtown First (or start by taking the 8). But for those that do want to transfer, they have an obvious option: walk a couple blocks.

        This is a classic detour. This subject has been on this blog a lot. Even the last post, about the Bellevue Transit Center, contained a big discussion about that. Should every bus detour to serve the transit center? It is the same idea. Should a bus, cruising along Roosevelt, suddenly make a turn in one of the more congested areas of town? In this case, though, you have a bus that will also serve Link (at a different stop), and also make those other bus connections — often times better.

        I think it really comes down to this:

        1) Should we have a bus on Roosevelt between 45th and 65th. I’m not sure we should. But if we do:

        2) What bus should that be? I think the answer is clear, simply because it allows for the fastest overall travel — the bus from Eastlake. It is not only the best connection (for a bunch of bus routes) but it is the cheapest.

        This is just a classic case of BRT-Creep. This went from Roosevelt BRT, to Roosevelt Rapid Ride, to just improving the 70. It is a degradation, pure and simple.

      2. Pinehurst to Eastlake? Who would take a bus to make that trip once Link is open? If you’re at the north edge of Pinehurst, take the ST BRT. If you’re closer to 125th take the “330” (it can’t be the “130” because it’s not a southern route, but the frequent bus from Lake City to Bitter Lake) over to Link and ride to UDS.

      3. I didn’t come up with the “Pinehurst to Eastlake” idea, but it is definitely reasonable to make that trip by bus if it is only one transfer. This would require some changes in the routing, however, The key is straightening out the 67, as I’ve proposed more than once. So that means a bus from here to here: https://goo.gl/maps/ZXapMMMJsquhdNcZA. The bus only makes a couple turns — to get to and from the layover spot. The rest of the route is a straight shot (which is good). Then you have the 70 (in some form or another).

        Now then, consider a trip from the Pinehurst Pub to Eastlake Bar and Grill. This is what that looks like if you drove: https://goo.gl/maps/G29AAxG45HR3UMJV8. Remarkably similar, and fairly fast (17 minutes, despite some traffic).

        Could you beat that with Link? Probably not. You could walk up to 125th (7 minutes, according to Google — https://goo.gl/maps/rXQrfG1fCZkrNToN6). Then you take the bus to the station (1 minute). Then ride Link to 45th (7 minutes) then ride the bus from the station to Eastlake (4 minutes). Then you have the walk up to the platform (2 minutes) and out of the platform (2 minutes). (The bus to bus trip has no additional walking.)

        So it is about 6 minutes longer. But that doesn’t count the additional stops. Assuming off-board payment most of the way, that will be roughly the same. So then it comes down to frequency. Now we are really guessing. I’ll assume ten minute frequency for both the 67 and 70 (what they had a week ago). I’ll assume five minute frequency for Link and six minute frequency for the Lake City to Bitter Lake bus (which I realize is very optimistic — a guy can dream). So, assuming average waits, that is five minutes for the 67 and five minutes for the 70 (for a total of ten). Using Link, it is 2.5, 3, and 5, so just a smidge longer. In general it is a wash.

        My guess is most riders wouldn’t bother walking up to 125th. The same is true if riders are farther south or farther north. There are very large gaps between the major crossing corridors. If you are in those gaps, you wait for a north-south bus.

        I think most riders would actually wait outside the pub, and then check their One Bus Away app (while looking up the street for the bus). If the 67 is due soon, then they would take that. If the 347/348 shows up first (and the 67 isn’t due for a while) they would just take that to Northgate, even though it is out of the way (and likely the slowest possible combination).

      4. “The 26 solves that problem, but it can’t justify high frequency, and is thus too expensive. It should be killed, and folks should “round the horn” to get there. Which is another problem — by keeping this line so short, we make it harder to get rid of the inefficient 26.”

        When this subject came up recently on another thread, I commented about it then and will do so again here. While the meandering route 26 certainly has issues north of 45th, it also serves a purpose for lower Wallingford commuters as it’s the fastest way downtown from there. I relied on the 26 and the 26X for over a decade while living there as part one of my two-seat daily commute to work (Georgetown originally and later North Delridge). I think if I still lived there today and had those same commute patterns and was faced with relying on the 62, then I’d probably end up driving (both employers provided free parking) or seeking employment somewhere downtown. Thus, in my humble opinion, the total elimination of this route would be a pretty big degradation of service for those folks in lower Wallingford who utilize the 26 today to get downtown.

      5. I agree about the 26. I think it is crazy that Metro got rid of the lower 26 (the part from 45th to downtown) but kept the upper part (north of 45th, sending it to the UW instead). I think this is a big mistake. To be clear, sending a bus from upper Wallingford (Meridian on the map) to the U-District is great for the handful of riders who will ride it. It dramatically changes that trip. But there just aren’t enough potential riders to justify that route.

        On the other hand, Stone Way has a ton of people. A lot of those people want to get downtown at rush hour. In an ideal world there would be a turnaround at about Meridian and 45th. There isn’t, so the bus should just head east, on 45th, to the UW. In other words, if times are tough, and you can only justify one part of the 26, then it should look like this: https://goo.gl/maps/ZNSnJQgXJtLiYTGv6. The bus should run during rush hour, both directions. By running during rush hour, you get people who are on 45th, close to the station, who use that as the fast way to get downtown. That relieves the pressure on the 44. You also get people on Stone Way who appreciate the one seat ride to the UW (or the fast two seat ride to Northgate or Capitol Hill). A bus like that would get plenty of riders both directions, making it a much more cost effective route. Run it every 15 minutes or so. If you miss it, then you take the 62. That’s a very cheap way to improve mobility in the area — a much better value than these express buses that run to South Lake Union and First Hill. Oh, and this would serve South Lake Union (because it is on the way to downtown) for a part of town that would never take Link to get to either place.

        Or they could just go with the previous plan, which was to merge the extremely-popular-at-rush-hour part of the 26 (the southern part) with the coverage part (the lower part).

      6. “Its not [worse than the status quo]. But the status quo sucks. We’ve waited for years for a decent transit network, and we keep being told ‘maybe later’.”

        I gave up on the J being a significant improvement when SDOT prioritized a cycletrack over transit priority on Eastlake and said transit priority wasn’t needed north of the Ship Canal. None of the future RapidRide lines have anything that will make them significantly faster or get them out of traffic. The G is the best, but it has transit lanes only in the middle third. SDOT talked about transit lanes on 45th but they seem to be practically gone. 23rd was downgraded from its original compete street. So when I saw this article about deferring even more lines, I thought, “Big deal.”

        What’s most important to me in RapidRide is transit priority lanes and full-time frequency. That was important for the A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I, and K because their evening and sometimes weekend frequency was half-hourly. But the 7, 40, 44, 48, and 70 already meet RapidRide’s minimum frequency (15 minutes until 10pm every day). So the main remaining benefits are lane priority, real-time signs, and off-board payment, red buses, and a fat line on the map. SDOT has watered down lane priority or not committed to it, real-time signs have appeared even on non-RapidRide lines (e.g., Rainier), and off-board payment is not that big a deal when only 1-3 people are boarding per stop, which is 90% of the stops on these routes. I would much rather beef up frequency systemwide than have red buses on a few routes. Metro has shown a commitment to reaching 10-minute frequency on the 44, 45, 65, and 67 when it can afford to, so I assume that will continue.

        As for 5-minute frequency; that’s my ideal, but everyone keeps telling me we can’t afford it yet and taxpayers aren’t ready to fund it. Metro’s definition of frequent is 15 minutes, and ultra-frequent as 7-10 minutes. Let’s get the 15- and 10-minute standards fully implemented and unassailable, and then worry about 5 minutes.

        Also, the disruptions since January with Connect 2020 followed by Covid-19 and the recession have left me just wanting to get back to the 2019 service level, so I have less energy to insist on restructure innovations than I had six months ago. If I have to walk a few blocks from the 67 to Link et al, I’m less concerned about that than getting back to the 67’s 10-minute frequency. And some of the innovations in the U-Link restructure didn’t turn out as well as expected, so I’m more concerned about unintended consequences than I was. I just want to get the major things like truncating the 41, 522, and the peak-express routes to boost local frequencies, and I’m less insistent on innovations beyond that.

        The discussion about “Lake City to Eastlake” and “Capitol Hill to Roosevelt and the 62” has raised a larger issue of North Seattle connectivity, and I think that deserves a larger response. The 45 connects southeast to northwest (U-District to NW 85th Street) but there’s no equivalent northeast to southwest (as exemplified by “Lake City to Ballard”), and other trips are also 3-seat (“Lake City to Eastlake”). This is a larger problem than just the 61, and needs full-scale attention. The 61 alone won’t solve it because when people say “Ballard” they mean Old Ballard, not NW 85th Street. And the 75 was a one-seat ride once but even it was slow, and I don’t think the 61 was much better. The first think we need is time coordination between the 75 and 40 at Northgate. The second thing we need is to eliminate the gaps between 45th, 65th, and 105th, so that all parts of North Seattle are a 2-seat ride. This could be done by extending several routes to 65th (48, 48, 70, 271, something frequent from Lake City, something from Old Ballard, something from Pinehurst). That may not be feasible, but the solution should be at least this good. Unfortunately it’s far into the Northgate Link restructure, so it will have to be a longer-term issue.

        Re the 26, I’ve long wanted to restructure it away, but I’ve always hesitated because of the lower Latona to Fremont connection; I wasn’t sure how much demand to Fremont there was and how much it would hinder trips.

      7. and off-board payment is not that big a deal when only 1-3 people are boarding per stop, which is 90% of the stops on these routes.

        That certainly isn’t the case with 7, although it might be the case with the 160. But that gets to my big point — what is the point of RapidRide? There are several parts to it:

        1) Increased frequency. Sounds good. But frequency is a zero sum game. If you increase frequency of the 160 (to make it qualify for “RapidRide” status) then it means you aren’t increasing frequency somewhere else. If increasing frequency is the biggest expense, then it makes more sense to do that with the 7, because it will cost less (and you are likely to get a bigger increase in ridership, and a bigger farebox recovery).

        2) Bus lanes. This is largely up to the city, and it happens regardless of whether the bus is RapidRide or not. Most of the buses that travel in Seattle’s bus lanes are not RapidRide, and most of the new bus lanes will be built for buses that aren’t RapidRide (like the 44 and 40).

        3) Signal Priority. I have no idea how much this is happening within our system.

        4) Off-board payment stations. This is largely restricted to RapidRide, although there are now off-board payment stations downtown (for all buses). This can make a huge difference for some buses.

        5) Stop consolidation. Again, this happens for various routes.

        6) Branding.

        It seems to me that the biggest benefit from RapidRide are those off-board stations. Every other aspect could happen outside of the new designation. But without calling a route RapidRide, you aren’t likely to get off-board payment on the bus. This is where the branding can actually pay off. If I am waiting for the D, I know all I have to do is tap outside the bus — I can board at any door. If I board the 15 — at the exact same stop — I know I have to pay in the front.

      8. The discussion about “Lake City to Eastlake” and “Capitol Hill to Roosevelt and the 62” has raised a larger issue of North Seattle connectivity, and I think that deserves a larger response. The 45 connects southeast to northwest (U-District to NW 85th Street) but there’s no equivalent northeast to southwest (as exemplified by “Lake City to Ballard”), and other trips are also 3-seat (“Lake City to Eastlake”). This is a larger problem than just the 61, and needs full-scale attention. The 61 alone won’t solve it because when people say “Ballard” they mean Old Ballard, not NW 85th Street.

        No, the 61 wouldn’t solve it, but it would put a huge dent in it. It really comes down to a few principles:

        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) The longer the trip, the more you should expect a transfer (and vice-versa).

        It is quite reasonable for a rider to expect to transfer when taking a trip from Lake City to Ballard. What isn’t reasonable is to have to go all the way down to 92nd, then all the way back up to Northgate Way (110th) then go all the way back down again. That clearly violates that second principle, as the bus will go an extra couple miles out of its way to get there (with plenty of time consuming turns in the process).

        In contrast, the 61 would mean a fairly straightforward trip from Northgate to Crown Hill. At that point, the rider would take either of the two main Ballard buses, depending on where exactly they are going. If they are going to Ballard High School, or Ballard Market, they take the D. If they are going to the west end of Ballard, they take the 40. If they are going somewhere in between — which is roughly the heart of Ballard — they will take either bus. That is somewhere around 10 buses an hour, which is pretty good frequency (in our system).

        What is true of that trip to Ballard is true of a trip on Aurora, or Greenwood Avenue. To get to Phinney Ridge from Lake City is a three seat ride. This violates principle four. This is a fairly short trip, yet it requires two transfers. It also violates that third principle again (by forcing the rider on that same north-south detour). By the way, I’m not saying I would do anything different with the 40 — a bus needs to cover that corridor. But that is a tough detour for someone heading that direction.

        Yet that is the nature of our system right now, and it should change. A Crown Hill, Greenwood, Northgate (Link!), Lake City bus would be quite popular based on the one-seat rides, but the two-seat rides are also significantly better. It wouldn’t fix all of the nasty combinations, but it would fix a bunch of them. The time savings for lots and lots of trips would be huge.

        In the long run, assuming the J Line permanently detours to the station, then the 522 replacement should be sent to the U-District. It will cost additional money (a lot more than if the J was sent to Roosevelt) but it would be worth it. That eliminates one of the bigger problem areas. You still have a three seat ride from a lot of places on the 62 to Eastlake, but that is a smaller issue.

        At that point, one challenge becomes deciding which bus (if any) goes on Roosevelt, and which buses go to the Ave. There is also the issue of northern terminus. Sending both the 372 and 522 replacement to Kenmore would be expensive. Ideally you have a layover at 145th. If not, I would send the 522 replacement to Lake City (laying over where the 41 lays over) and send the 522 replacement to Kenmore.

        At some point you send a bus across 130th, and just about all of the major “can’t get there from here” issues go away (at least for that part of town).

    4. By the way, here is the what I assume to be the layover path if the bus turns on 45th: https://goo.gl/maps/NHR3Vvn3T6yFgHgG9. This is the fastest way there — it doesn’t do the dogleg of the proposed 31/32 which would add a minute. This is the original proposal (back when this was Roosevelt RapidRide): https://goo.gl/maps/eUj4ze6AFVNECNxm6. It takes two minutes longer. As with all changes, there are trade-offs:

      Advantage of looping through campus:
      1A) Better connection to Link.
      2A) Serves the campus.
      3A) Saves two minutes of service time.

      Advantage of going straight:
      1B) Allows the 67 to use follow the 45, which would mean a combined 7.5 minute frequency through the Ave (at current funding levels) or 5 minute frequency (if both can be bumped to 10 minutes).
      2B) Three frequent buses heading south from 65th towards the UW. The J might not be the first choice, but it would at least get you down in the general area, especially if you are headed to the south end of campus (Campus Parkway). Link is also an option, but doesn’t serve as much of the U-District (or Ravenna), and involves going into and out of a deep boor tunnel (erasing the minor speed benefits). It is quite likely the combination of buses would be faster more often than not, since they would likely be as, or more frequent.
      3B) Better connection to the 522 after it gets truncated at Roosevelt (and something similar is built in the future). It is true that you could just extend the thing that replaces the 522, but that would cost more than two additional minutes of service. The shortest route is likely this: https://goo.gl/maps/B7gddLqT3TEFM3hm8, which is about 12 minutes longer than using the Green Lake layover (https://goo.gl/maps/uXYiSo7vLiHLPSS86). That means that extending a route south is 10 minutes of extra service versus extending this route north.
      4B) Better connection to the 62.
      5B) Serves more of Roosevelt/12th.

      To me, it isn’t even close. The key element is 2A. Being able to have frequent service on the Ave *and* service on Roosevelt for only two additional minutes of frequency is huge. People will walk to campus, if that is their destination. People will walk a couple blocks to get to Link if they are headed south, or stay on the bus to Roosevelt if they are headed north (and lose no time at all). But low frequency service — having to wait 15 minutes if you just miss a bus — leads to low ridership.

      Even from a coverage standpoint, the original route was better. Yes, 1A and 2A are nice — it is good to go a few blocks east. But at most it saves you three minutes to stay on the bus (and not get off on Roosevelt/11th). That’s because looping around doesn’t save you much time. In contrast, if you are headed up to Ravenna (or 65th) this saves you around 15 minutes of walking, or having to deal with a transfer. The transfer is not super frequent (at best it is every ten minutes) or it involves Link, which is a lot of work for one stop. Just getting back and forth to the platform would take longer than the bus trip (and that assumes you are headed to 65th, and not Ravenna or 50th).

      To me the biggest argument is the ability ability to very cheaply add frequency along a key corridor.

      1. Ross, it’s bad because it goes west on 45th. It should follow the 43rd path so transfers from Link don’t have to cross 45th. It would be fine on 45th IF ST had built an underpass, but it didn’t.

      2. It should follow the 43rd path so transfers from Link don’t have to cross 45th.

        What exactly are you proposing — that the bus loop around and layover there? That might be faster.

        If not, then forget about it. There is no way that a bus should spend extra time trying to save some riders from crossing the street. The outbound 44, for example, is a huge mistake. Imagine you are transferring there. You get out of the station and you avoid crossing the street. Great. But then what? After boarding the bus, you wait for the bus to turn right, with a bunch of pedestrians in the area. Then you wait for the bus to turn left (again, with a bunch of pedestrians crossing the street). If the bus had simply stopped on 45th, you would be home sooner. Now think about someone who boarded down the street (e. g. at the hospital). They have to wait for all of these twists and turns, and they get nothing out of it.

        It is no different from stop spacing. If you put a stop at every block, then many riders would have a shorter walk to the bus stop. But the bus becomes much slower. It is a trade-off, and the extremes (on either end) are a bad idea. Having the bus spend extra time so that some of the riders avoid crossing the street is extreme.

  2. The electrification project is also a waste. Has the county actually done the work to see whether increasing frequency or running wire is actually better for the environment? They all reduce global warming gases, it is question of whether one is a better deal than the other. My guess is phasing out the diesel buses is a much better approach.

    1. Given that buses get about three miles to the gallon one has to have ten people on it to be providing lower GHG/passenger-mile than small cars. There are MANY midday, evening and weekend runs in the ‘burbs which fail to meet that metric.

      Yes, they’re necessary for social service needs, but they’re also ripe to be small battery buses.

      1. Not just in the suburbs. The 62 east of Green Lake seems like a quintessential example. I have not ridden it that often but aside from one time when I was on it just as Roosevelt High classes had ended, I don’t think I’ve ever seen 10 people on any of its buses east of Roosevelt along 65th. I’m sure there are other examples.

      2. Metro goes by riders per service hour, not riders in short segments. That low-volume segment is fifteen minutes. The western half of the route subsidizes the eastern half. The entire route from end to end is just over an hour. In a corridor with overlapping trips, you can’t just count the people who are on the bus at any moment or throughout the entire hour, but also people who get on or off at any point during the hour. Transit also has a public and VMT benefit even when somebody isn’t on it, because the fact that it comes every 15 minutes every day means it will be there for them when they need it and they’ll be more willing to use it or downsize their number of cars.

        The 906 (Southcenter-Fairwood) gets eight people between Southcenter to IKEA on Saturday afternoon (pre-covid), so it only needs two more in the rest of the route to reach ten. The entire route from end to end is 32 minutes. The 226, one of the low-volume routes in the Eastside, is 45 minutes from end to end. I don’t know it’s ridership, but most coverage routes get at least ten per hour, or if not then it’s in the 5-10 range, and if you take the average of all routes in the area they reach ten. The very lowest-volume routes like the 25 and 42 were deleted in the 2014 cuts or various other restructures.

      3. And the redundant service on NE 65th Street is the 71, not the 62. Metro wanted to delete the 71 but one councilmember got the council to override it. This was widespread before 2012 but has become uncommon, and the 71 is not in future plans, and is suspended now. The 62 was an attempt to create a crosstown corridor on 65th. Some of its low ridership is because Roosevelt Station isn’t open yet. Since there’s no fast way to get out of northeast Seattle except the peak expresses, people drive, but hopefully with Link they’ll take the 62 to Roosevelt instead. The 62’s routing is prebuilding ridership and the expectation of frequent transit in the 65th corridor, and it takes years to build that up, and the gap before Roosevelt Station opens is also delaying things.

      4. @Mike Orr

        I was not criticizing the coverage in the slightest, simply pointing out the low ridership is not just a suburb area issue. It’s a bit of a pet peeve because I often see overgeneralizations like “Seattle is great, suburbs not so much” and really there are mixed cases. The 62 ridership in that eastern segment is much more like the 249 in Bellevue than the 3/4 in downtown, and for good reason, the density is similar.

        Having said that, I know that everyone here loves to hate on the 71 but my personal experience remains much better than that of most people. I’ve seen it consistently busier during the day on that eastern segment than the 62, which suggests to me that it goes where people want to go, in a way that 62 right now does not. I wish that they kept both the 62 and the 71 once Roosevelt Link station opened, to actually gauge the new usage patterns, and then truncate one or the other as necessary. If more people really use the 71 to go to the North U District/Ave area, then making them switch is silly, and by removing the 71 we lose a bit of coverage too (though not much, I admit). I could imagine a world in which we keep the 71 and truncate the 62 at Green Lake P&R/Roosevelt just as easily as one in which we keep the super long 62 and kill the 71. Alas, not all worlds we imagine come to pass :)

      5. I should add that I understand that part of the reason people hate the 71 is because it was kept for political reasons while the 72 was cut. I miss the 72 as well :) I actually thought it was one of the cooler routes in NE Seattle, and provided nice complementary coverage. So my solution would have been to keep both, not to delete both. Alas, again.

    2. more or better service could also be operated under existing overhead. there are new overhead projects under way (23rd and Henderson).

      1. Exactly. That is why I wrote that as a possibility. My main point is that the county should study all of those options. It really comes down to three areas (and the combination of them):

        1) Increased ridership (i. e. people out of there car) by running trolleys more often.

        2) Increased ridership by running regular diesel buses more often.

        3) Less fuel used by adding new wire.

        Then you also have to estimate how much this all costs, and what future costs will be. My understanding is that electrification is getting cheaper and cheaper. Furthermore, we have lots of diesel (or diesel/electric) buses that are in good shape. Switching over now, rather than later, incurs a cost (while incurring a benefit). My guess is that overall we would be better making a more gradual transition and putting the money into other things.

        Absent a study, I can only conclude that this is a waste.

    3. I don’t just see why Metro can’t just have operate off-wire north of 45th St. MUNI’s already made the decision to so for the 30-Stockton (One of their busiest routes), and MUNI uses the exact same model of Trolleybus as Metro does. Theres really no excuse for Metro to not do the same at this point.

    4. Under an optimistic scenario where we actually take climate change seriously, it is definitely not a waste – a reasonable goal would be emitting zero carbon by 2030. By that time, running extra bus service won’t reduce carbon emissions at all, because gasoline-powered cars should be banned.

      Of course here in the real world, all of our half-assed efforts are a performative joke. Either way, running more buses that rely on any kind of fossil fuel is not a solution.

      1. ” a reasonable goal would be emitting zero carbon by 2030″

        Reasonable? All the current cars are sent to the scrap heap and the carbon cost of their production is thrown away. Boeing engineering prowess has electric airplanes replacing the world wide fleet. The Navy goes 100% nuclear submarine and we abandon the Air Force and Army. All the construction for roads and rail lines goes back to pick and shovel. Every cargo ship has what, nuclear reactors or sails?

        Of course we could go back to pioneer days. Abandon cities and everyone lives off their labor and the fruit of the land. Split wood not atoms was the hippy mantra but I haven’t seen the current crop of progressives with that bumper sticker on their Prius.

    5. I agree, and I think even in COVID19 times many routes are still more efficient than having all the riders take their own cars. The right measure isn’t simultaneous riders on a bus, but cumulative SOV trips averted. Furthermore, there’s benefits to transit beyond the direct reduction in climate change contribution from transportation: improved density, and an increase in the share of professional vs amateur vehicle operators on the road (think I’ve only had a close call with a bus once on foot, vs nearly daily with the amateurs).

  3. This line struck me as a classic Catch-22:

    The pace at which suspended service is restored will depend on demand as transit ridership recovers.

    But demand for transit is contingent on service. If you provide crap, people will find other ways of getting around. Its like closing half your stores and then noticing that sales are down. Yeah, no kidding — those shoppers are going somewhere more convenient.

    1. yes, the chicken and the egg. The demand for transit is down due to Covid 19 physical distancing and its recession. When near normality is restored, the demand for transit will return. better service with shorter waits will increase the quantity demanded (ridership) as it will be more attractive.

    2. It’s almost like transit maybe should be run as a service rather than a business, as if it were a public utility. People don’t have their electricity or water “reduced” during hard times; they stay constant (inability to pay bills not withstanding obviously). Maybe a better example would be emergency services. They’re meant to run always, regardless of finances. The business model is not the best way to run everything; it has a time and place. I really wish people would realize that.

      During the last downturn, service around the country was savagely cut, and it took years to restore it. The whole process is now repeating itself, and as usual, it’s poorer people and those who can’t drive who are being screwed over. Worse still is that the narrative that because people share space on buses and trains, they’re dangerous, contrary to all the evidence from around the world. Yet it’s fine to reopen offices and schools and restaurants, where we know for sure such crowding does facilitate the spread very effectively.

      I miss the days when facts held some weight…

      1. I think transit is being heavily subsidized right now, even more than before Covid-19. Still the pandemic has hurt revenue across the board for governments, and choices have to be made. But transit is still running, just not as conveniently. Of course the poor get screwed the most during a pandemic.

        I don’t know how many riders would voluntarily cram onto a bus if there were no restrictions on number of riders, especially if everyone wears masks. But I imagine some of the current restrictions are because people will make unsafe decisions re: Covid-19 if allowed. I wish the schools were open. I somehow doubt there is a deep well of potential transit riders who are staying away due to passenger limits. I think they are staying away because they don’t have to commute to work, and do worry a crowded bus is exactly the kind of environment Covid-19 would spread.

      2. Daniel,

        In a certain sense, that’s true, as fares are suspended right now (soon to change) and sales tax revenue is way down. If it weren’t for the big CARES Act infusion, Metro certainly would have to go through major cuts (probably in the 30-40% range). On the other hand, the subsidy to airlines was immense: both transit and airlines got $25 billion to sustain themselves, but transit carried 9x the passengers in FY2019 (9.9 billion transit passengers[1] vs 1.1 billion airline passengers[2]). Furthermore, the airlines serve a much more elite crowd than transit, as basically anyone who can afford an airline ticket can afford transit, while the reverse is definitely not true. If transit had gotten the subsidy airlines got, this post wouldn’t even exist.

        [1] https://www.apta.com/wp-content/uploads/APTA-Ridership-by-Mode-and-Quarter-1990-Present.xlsx
        [2] https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/by_the_numbers/media/Air_Traffic_by_the_Numbers_2020.pdf

      3. “transit maybe should be run as a service rather than a business, as if it were a public utility. “

        Sounds good, sell off Metro to PSE and let the chips fall where they may. Shocking maybe but your water service isn’t subsidized. Ditto electricity, garbage and dare I say Natural Gas. In fact, they actually generate tax revenue.

  4. A steak doesn’t taste any worse from an unbranded cow. Any chance we can run the new Rapid Ride routes with regular buses until we can afford the official ones?

    Also, what’s the “range” of our latest trolleybus fleet on its batteries? Could the same bus run the Waterfront to Broad Street on battery one direction, and the Third Avenue wire back?

    And our new battery fleet, how far will it run on a charge, and how long does it have to sit under the charging socket go get one? And also, how much groundwork can we accomplish on things like electrification ’til money comes available to hang the wire?

    Incidentally, for thirty years a trolleybus passenger has been able to board southbound on First at Marion and deboard at 62nd and Prentice. At least they will after a single line-crew shift mounts the switch that’ll turn a coach from eastbound James to southbound Third. Courthouse stop and all.

    But for my kennel of Personal Pet Hates, my own snarly little favorite is the money we lose in operating time when the vehicle should be moving, but the driver is collecting, discussing, or arguing about collecting fares instead. Question for the hour, day, year, decade, century and eon:

    “What’s the cost of one wasted minute?” Bet Paul Denison knows!

    Or when information is so scarce in quantity and quality that passengers are left searching for service when they should be riding it. Character quirk, maybe, but I’d just as soon transit’s enemies spend THEIR energy forcing bad choices on us, rather than us donating OUR time to save them the trouble.

    You’re not wrong, Ross, and you’re doing really hard duty very well, but we’re not licked. Because machinery has one saving aspect: In the hands of skilled designers, engineers, manufacturers and operators, a lot of mechanisms that really suck deliver huge concentrated power.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The point of RapidRide is the level boarding, off-board payment and extended stop spacing. You can do those things with ordinary buses, but you still have the capital cost of all those stations. That’s why they’re cutting them back.

      1. In the case of Roosevelt RapidRide (oops, sorry, Eastlake RapidRide) they also plan on running wire. Of course that may be cut back — ironic since they are planning more battery buses.

  5. And CORRECTION, though since we’re not in the electoral BASE formerly called The Confederacy, I can leave off the State name and the “S”as in “Department of” and not get shot for Resisting Arrest:

    Between my memory and Google Maps in 3D, I’m not seeing trolleywire very well. But if there’s a switch eastbound from First onto CHERRY, southbound wire Second to James, and James to just short of Third, a deboarding ferry passenger is one line-crew work shift away from the Prentice Street Route 7 and Link at Pioneer Square.

    Their choice. Point being: How many OTHER choices do we just have yet to notice?

    Mark Dublin

  6. They could eliminate every bus route within a one mile radius of my neighborhood and I think less than 1% of people would notice.

  7. Thanks for the article, Dan.

    For those who care to see the detailed numbers for the 2021-2022 budget, here’s the link to the relevant KC page. Just page down to the Metro category and download that section of the budget. (For those who don’t care to get into the weeds too much, I would suggest just taking a look at the financial plan summary found on page 450.)

    https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/executive/performance-strategy-budget/budget/2021-2022/2021-2022-Budget-Book.aspx

  8. As an extremely infrequent visitor to the Blog, I hesitate to intrude
    on the sophisticated conversations on bus routings in the U-district,
    but thinking back to the pre-covid time, I think the most prominent
    feature of making turns on any of those streets is the presence of
    lots and lots of pedestrians–most of whom are focused on their
    mobile phones and usually not watching the “walk” crossing lights.
    When the U-district Link station is open, even more pedestrian traffic
    will be generated. Of course, much depends on when health and
    safety issues permit full reopening of the UW.

    1. quite true. direct pathways are better; buses making turns will have to yield to pedestrians; there will be more pedestrians.

  9. Frank, since the COVID emergency has pretty much eliminated sit-down espresso in the U-District, the switch to paper demitasse cups has relieved our whole generation of sophisticates from being required to stick our little fingers out past the bottom of the mandatory thimble-sized coffee-cup, so relax.

    Also, in public transit even more than firearms possession, the Ninth Amendment sets forth our Founders’ mindset about the overriding value of Common Sense. Which in addition to giving The Village Idiot a corn-stalk for militia-duty, also mandated that any rule or procedure that complicates transit delivery is treason.

    A visit to Columbia City a few days ago showed me (I think) more than one street has now been made pedestrian-only. Indicating that the station they oughta call “Brooklyn” should touch on at least two more. So call ’em as you see ’em and welcome to the Blog.

    But Jack, isn’t there any chance that with properly-timed light cycles and the training level every coach operator should have, people can kind of get used to each other? Also a mechanism-free traffic control measure:

    A woman in uniform with a whistle. If that’s gender-biased, go ahead and cancel me out of the Universe. From experience with buses, cars, and U.S. male police officers directing traffic I’m stickin’ with it.

    Mark Dublin

  10. The B Line is running 90, mostly empty, round trips per day. Some of those trips should be cut so service can be partially restored to cut Eastside routes that serve the low income. The last thing we need is another another empty RapidRide route taking service hours away from the less fortunate.

    1. 1. Which Eastside routes serve the low-income? I see a large percent of working-class passengers on the B, and it goes through Crossroads, which is the lowest-income area.

      2. The B’s ridership is lower than other RapidRides except maybe the F, but does any other local Bellevue/Redmond route have even its ridership?

      3. Does it get ten riders per hour? Probably.

      In any case, Metro won’t reduce a RapidRide route to restore coverage routes, so it’s a moot issue.

      1. I’m just saying what I would do if I were king of Metro. I would cut some trips off the B Line and restore some trips on cut routes that serve affordable housing. And you may say that would never happen, but I bet it would happen if people in the affordable housing complex contacted their KC council person and complained. Equity trumps ridership.

  11. No real surprise on the J-Line. The case for it was always weak.

    Link will be far superior to any bus based service on the core route, and the secondary routes already have service adequate to meet demand.

    1. You’ve made the same absurd statement before, and we’ve corrected it before. Are you trying to get everyone to do that again — i. e. are you trolling?

      There are dozens of high end trips that can’t be done with Link along that corridor — either because the stop spacing is too big (e. g. Campus Parkway) or Link is nowhere near there (Eastlake or South Lake Union). Get a better map.

      1. Take it up with Metro. They are the ones who are cancelling the J. Apparently they think they have the data to justify doing so.

      2. Metro is canceling the J because it has a severe revenue shortage and can only fund three lines. The J isn’t weak; it’s just not in the top three. The reasons for the G, H, and I are obvious. The G is far along, is the showcase for a good RapidRide line (more street priority than any other line), and has Sound Transit funding and maybe federal grants. The H and I are because of “equity”: they serve lower-income, high-minority areas, and whose ridership has fallen the least among Metro routes because a lot of essential workers are on them.

      3. You wrote:

        No real surprise on the J-Line. The case for it was always weak.

        Why was it always weak? Stop bullshitting people. What Metro did (due to funding constraints) has nothing to do with your statement. If it was always weak, then explain why. All you have is bullshit arguments that make no sense. Here, I’ll join in:

        No real surprise on the J-Line. They never knew what it was going to be called. Roosevelt BRT, Roosevelt RapidRide, J-Line …

        Or how about:

        No real surprise on the J-Line. Everyone along that corridor will just ride their bike.

        The 70 is, and will continue to be, one of our strongest bus routes. It is a top 10 route — better than two RapidRide lines. Link will make it stronger — or are you saying no one wants to go to Eastlake or South Lake Union?

        Oh, and the other thing that Metro cancelled was the RapidRide R — otherwise known as the 7. Are you saying that adding off-board payment, stop consolidation, bus lanes and the other parts of RapidRide are not appropriate for the 7 — the 5th most popular route in the state? Really?

        Dude, you’ve said some crazy things before, but saying that there isn’t a strong case for the RapidRide R has got to be one of the craziest.

  12. I wonder what criteria Metro uses to determine which routes will be RapidRide. Does anyone know?

    Given that one of the biggest parts of it is off board payment (and stations) it would make sense to look at how much time is spent picking up people versus driving. Ridership is important, but that would be reflected in those numbers. Even if there was no Northgate Link, it wouldn’t make sense to convert the 41 to RapidRide. It picks up a lot of people, but most of the time is spent on the freeway. In contrast, the 7 makes lots of stops, and there are people at every stop — a logical choice for RapidRide. In contrast, there are plenty of routes that make lots of stops, but because they aren’t that busy, they don’t deserve the special treatment.

    I don’t have stop data for the proposed I-Line, but there is no way it is better than the R-Line. The 7 is a relatively short route, with tons of people at each stop. It carries more people per hour than the B, C and F line. It is our fifth most popular bus, despite its lack of off-board payment. The Rapid Ride I-Line won’t be anywhere near that.

    It seems that Metro is taking an approach to “sprinkle” around RapidRide, regardless of its efficacy. Either that, or they just figure they can shortchange Seattle, in hopes that Seattle ends up picking up the cost of that work. Maybe I’m wrong — maybe there is some sort of formula they use to determine which routes should receive that treatment. Either way, it seems like some areas (like Rainier Valley) are getting shortchanged.

    1. The Seattle RapidRide lines “G” and higher were decided by SDOT and imposed on Metro. They came from Seattle’s transit master plan in 2012. SDOT decided them in consultation with Metro, a public sounding board, and public feedback. Metro did not want an all-Madison route; it favored something like the existing 11 and 12 or a Broadway-Madison route (a variation of the 49), for greater ridership and usefulness. But the city wanted an all-Madison route, although budget limitations precluded going all the way to Madison Park (without RapidRide enhancements east of MLK). So the city insisted and Metro acquiesced. The other RapidRide lines had more consensus because practically everybody agreed that Westlake, Eastlake, 45th, 23rd, Delridge, and Rainier should be priority transit corridors.

      Outside Seattle I can’t say. It’s probably based on connecting the largest cities. The K was originally envisioned as Bellevue (Eastgate) – Kirkland – Redmond. Later Kirkland got it rerouted to Bellevue – Kirkland – Totem Lake, and cut Redmond off. Somehow Redmond didn’t object. But now that the K has been deferred or canceled, the 250 will continue serving the original vision of it.

      The I (Renton-Kent-Auburn) serves two obviously important corridors (169 and 180S), and cities that are left out of Link on 99, and Valley Medical Center. the 169 was the highest-ridership local route in Kent, and the 180S was busy too. Whether they should have been connected is less clear, but they are adjacent and in a north-south orientation so Metro did.

      The I doesn’t address getting to Link, either at Federal Way or KDM or Rainier Beach, or getting to the center of downtown Renton, so Metro has more work to do there.

      1. @Mike Orr
        You seem to be able to keep these lettered RR routes straight in your mind, something I am frequently failing at and needing to stop for a minute to think about. So, what’s your secret? Lol. Is there a handy cheat sheet available somewhere?

      2. I have trouble with them too and it’s a strain to remember them. For the J, I refer to the article. I used the wrong letter in my first comment and had to correct it. For the I, K, and R I remember articles within the past few days.

        I hate these consecutive letters. Metro has a good system of xx for Seattle routes, 1xx for South King County routes, 2xx for Eastside routes, and 3xx for North King County routes. The RapidRide lines should similarly show their subares. It’s hard to keep track of random letters all over the county.

        I have similar problems with Link 1, 2, and 3; Link Red, Blue, and Green; and Stride 1, 2, and 3; and the final names of Link stations before opening. Instead I use geographical terms before they open, and then after they open I can see how they look on the ground and the letters on the signs and remember that picture.

      3. Yeah, I agree. I constantly look them up. I don’t have as much trouble with the numbers, and a big part of that is what Mike mentioned — Metro has a system for the numbers. There is no system for the letters. The only one that will be easy to remember is the R, for Rainier Valley (if it every gets built).

  13. I must apologize abjectly for teasing gentlemen police officers over their ability to direct traffic.

    The particular incident I had in mind, which occurred in the University District about thirty years ago, suddenly put completely contradictory demands on officers who obviously arrived on-scene in good conscience, but prepared to do something else. Seen to recall the culprit being a motorcade unrelated to transit.

    Between the officers’ efforts and also those of assorted pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists and bus drivers including though not primarily me, there were zero casualties and a good laugh was had by all. Necessary rule:

    Motorcades shall not be allowed in either bus or bike lanes, unless the vehicles are either buses or bicycles. Trailers permitted on both, provided the buses have accordion hinges between sections.

    Mark Dublin

Comments are closed.