Reconnect West Seattle’s bus brainstorm proposed replacing some car trips traveling between West Seattle and Southeast Seattle with an alternative that would take up less road space. This market certainly isn’t well served by transit today. Witness Route 50:

The eastern half of this route used to head downtown as the 39, but this was redundant with Link. The 50 is now a milk run that provides East-West connectivity between the major corridors in both the Rainier Valley (Rainier, MLK, Beacon) and West Seattle (Delridge, 35th, California).

In theory, it also provides a coveted East-West Connection in one of the few southern corridors that can do this in a roughly straight line. Indeed, zipping along the West Seattle Bridge would have been time-competitive with driving. But instead, it takes a costly detour through Sodo for a couple of reasons:

  • One of the themes of the post-Link restructure was providing better connections to jobs in Sodo, as Link reduced the need for direct service to downtown.
  • Running on the high bridge, there is no transfer point to connect with the very high volume of buses on the busway. Riders on West Beacon Hill would have no easy way to access the broader system except to take a bus away from downtown to a Rainier Valley Link station. There is no straightforward way to get on the West Seattle Bridge westbound from Spokane St.

(Un)luckily, closure of the West Seattle Bridge resolves this dilemma. As Spokane St is now the fastest way across the Duwamish, it’s easy to intersect with a huge volume of buses to downtown and Sodo:

Put a stop somewhere around here (Google Street View)

According to SDOT, roughly 9% of peak hour traffic on the 2019 bridge was headed for Southeast Seattle. A modified Route 50 could serve this demand better than the detoured alternatives, provide better connections to Southbound Link, and not compromise connectivity to Sodo and Downtown.

51 Replies to “A direct West-Southeast connection”

  1. I’m not sure what you are proposing. I see a picture, but it doesn’t link to a map, and I don’t recognize the area.

    1. I think they are proposing to cut off that knob in the middle that goes to SODO. So it would continue onto Spokane St from Columbian Way. As a 50 rider this makes a lot of sense to me because I always use the 50 to go east or west. The downside of this would be that it wouldn’t connect to Link in SODO for people trying to connect and go North, but potentially the bus connections to downtown the article references would make up for that.

      1. OK, yeah, I get the idea of making the route straighter, but I’m still not sure about what exactly is being proposed. So the idea would be to go on Spokane Street, not the Spokane Street viaduct. Then the bus stops where, exactly? I don’t think it makes sense to stop at First (the only bus that serves that is the 21, and that transfer can occur in West Seattle). So I guess it stops somewhere around 4th and the SoDo Busway. Oh, wait, after using Google Maps I now know that Martin is suggesting a stop next to the SoDo Busway. Here is his picture, more or less: https://goo.gl/maps/vX9eJXVcMVRcttzK9. Mystery solved.

  2. Anybody who rides the 50, or even better, drives it, can you tell me if anybody anywhere near rides that route from end to end?

    Or, remembering some “Long And Winding Roads” on my own runcard, would schedules work better if the route was broken up into, say, three? Delays really do propagate.

    I can “visualize” a more-or-less intercity express from Othello Station to West Seattle Junction by way of Myrtle and the West Seattle Freeway. But can anybody else SEE doing that?

    Mark Dublin

    1. I live at the top of Beacon Hill and use the 50 to either go to/from Alki or a shorter trip to Columbia City/Seward Park. To me, it doesn’t seem like many people ride the whole distance but I ride at off peak times usually.

  3. And real measure of my own level of awareness. At this writing, is my would-be express route really the low-level bridge?

    Mark Dublin

  4. The issue with Route 50 is that there are few non- residential destinations within walking distance in SE Seattle except for the VA hospital, a few businesses on Rainier and the MLK/ Othello shopping area. It’s pretty much set up to feed Link in SE Seattle as its main function.

    There is very little reason why someone from West Seattle would ride it into SE Seattle unless they are a VA user.

    1. There is also Columbia City. Neither Link nor this bus serve the commercial center, but the bus gets a lot closer than Link (basically a ten minute walk versus a five minute walk). There are also destinations here and there, like the public health center in Columbia City (this goes right by it).

      Then there are people going the other direction. By serving Admiral, Alaska Junction and Alki, the 50 may serve more West Seattle commercial areas than any other bus.

      More than anything, though, it is a connector bus. It isn’t necessarily about the one-seat rides, but the two-seat one. If you are close to the 50, then it is essential for reaching most of Beacon Hill and most of Rainier Valley. Likewise, if you are headed to South Seattle College, or High Point or Morgan Junction, it is probably your best option.

      I’m not saying that the connection to Link is unimportant, but it isn’t the only reason why the 50 exists.

  5. Or, why can’t the 50 go down to Holgate, then use Beacon Ave S to get up the hill, instead of doubling back to Spokane St, then take 15th Ave S to Columbian Way?

    1. Good question. That looks like a much better route. That is just about as fast, and runs by a lot more people. It means that riders headed to the V. A. can use the Beacon Hill station, which also means that if they miss that bus, they can take 60 or 107 and walk a little further. Overall that just looks much, much better.

      The only drawback is that you lose a stop on Columbian Way, but it is only a two minute walk to the other stops (https://goo.gl/maps/TGF52RZGqLz5uAy4A). It just doesn’t make sense to follow the current routing.

      1. It would skip SODO Link Station and go by Beacon Hill Link Station instead if that started running tomorrow. West Seattle riders wouldn’t like the additional travel time needed to get to Downtown Seattle.

        Once the Lander St overpass opens, it would make more sense. The bus could go by SODO station on the busway between Lander and Holgate.

      2. How many West Seattle riders use the SODO transfer stop?

        I don’t live in West Seattle but whenever I go to Alki, Admiral, or the Junction, I almost always take the C and transfer at the Junction. SODO is a concrete jungle and the 50 is infrequent. In contrast, the Junction is a pleasant place to sit, walk around, look at the streetcar murals, or dip into the Husky Deli or Bakery Nouveau while waiting for a bus. The only reason I could see taking the 50 to SODO for downtown is if the C is overcrowded, which would only be peak hours.

      3. What about doing this sort of route, skipping SoDo by moving onto the Spokane St viaduct but dog-legging up to Beacon Ave via 15th Ave after Columbian Way? https://goo.gl/maps/6UDtXsH48KMbrPCx5

        Per Google’s estimates, it saves 6-12 minutes from Harbor Island to Beacon & Columbian Way relative to the current routing (shown here: https://goo.gl/maps/GsZTrsdomLQVNswU9). Though you lose the SoDo connections, those are provided to some degree by the 21. You make the West Seattle-Beacon Hill connection a lot better with a direct bus to the dense part of Beacon Hill (~25 mins from the Junction to Beacon Hill station vs the current 40).

        And if SoDo connections really are vital, staying on Spokane St instead of the viaduct but going to Beacon Hill (like https://goo.gl/maps/9Dw5kA9L48rigtM99) still saves you 4-6 minutes compared to the current routing via Holgate.

        Another thing the 50 needs is some stop consolidation, especially on California Ave. Just between the Junction and Admiral (1.5 miles), there are 11 stops, sometimes on the same block. Quarter-mile stop spacing would entail reducing this by half.

    2. One risk of Holgate is that the street itself will probably be closed for a few years between 6th and 4th once the ID part of the West Seattle — Ballard project gets underway if a Holgate crossing over Link is built as preferred alternatives suggest. To make a 2035 subway opening, that would need to begin around 2025-2027. Of course, I expect the whole project will end up delayed and down-scoped.

  6. The opening of the Lander St overcrossing should help Route 50 in SODO. The Holgate routing is a detour created when Lander St was closed for the construction. If SODO routing is the topic, this current “detour routing” is important to mention. I don’t see it mentioned in the post.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. The Lander Street overpass will mean that buses don’t have to wait for trains (like they do today). If the bus goes on Spokane Street, the bus will have to wait as well. I don’t know how often those delays happen, but it may be better to detour (to avoid the long delay) than to go on the straighter route (especially if the detour also connects with Link).

      1. The problem with that way of think is, most of the time, there isn’t a train and, even when there is, the detour to Lander is unlikely to actually be any faster than just waiting for the train.

        It’s almost equivalent to making the 50 wait 10 minutes at 4th/Spokane, just in case there’s a train, even when there is no train, in the name of improving reliability. All it does is make for a slow rider experience.

      2. I’ve seen some horrendous delays due to the trains. I know I’m not alone. That explains why the city is spending so much money building an overpass.

        It isn’t like that is the only benefit. There are riders who are headed to SoDo. Then there is the Link Station. I don’t think it makes sense to skip both SoDo and Beacon Hill. If you serve Beacon Hill after going via Spokane Street (on the surface) you really haven’t saved any time. It just doesn’t add up. You might as well head south over Lander (when the bridge is done) or skip all of it and go on the viaduct (to Beacon Hill station).

      3. asdf,

        It depends on the train. If it’s a unit oil train it can take six to eight minutes or even longer to clear the crossing because they run them more slowly than most freights on the 3rd Avenue trackage.

      4. Yes, the overpass will vastly improve reliability and shorten the detour. And don’t forget that it serves Starbucks, a major employment destination. If ANYBODY is going to get people back together in offices, it will be Starbucks, because they believe in coffee-klatsches.

      5. Those of you have not experienced it probably aren’t aware of a typical wait. This is not the case of a train chugging along, like you would find at say, Golden Gardens. These trains often move very slowly. They often just pause, right in the middle of the tracks. Sometimes you will be waiting for a northbound train to pass, and just before it has passed, a southbound train comes by (going much slower). If you look at map, you can see why. It is an industrial area, with lots and lots of tracks. I don’t know much about the railroad industry, but I’m pretty sure BNSF likes to use those tracks, and using those tracks involves a lot of shuffling around.

        The same thing happens at Interbay, to a larger degree. But all of the east-west roads in Interbay avoid those tracks by building bridges. Seattle has a very large bridge that does that as well — the Spokane Street Viaduct. But underneath that and you run across lots and lots of tracks.

      6. I’ve waited for a Route 50 bus at Columbia City. Train blockages can result in delays. It’s very frustrating to have OneBusAway just keep saying that a bus is 12 minutes away for over 10 minutes.

        I’ll also note that Spokane St under the viaduct can move quite slowly. That roadway also gets delays. If Route 50 is supposed to run on SODO streets, the new Lander overpass should definitely be used.

  7. If Seattle had a true frequent transit network the 50 would be really great. I’ve occasionally used it to get from the airport to West Seattle, but one needs to check OneBusAway to see if it is arriving at SODO at the correct time, otherwise it’s easier to continue north on Link and catch the C-line downtown.

    In a perfect world, the 50 would serve predominately as a Link feeder bus, running every 10 minutes with Link running every 5-6 min. In that scenario I would reroute it to stop at the Beacon Hill link station as well. But in reality it will always be a low-frequency gap filler that is only useful to a small group of riders.

    And yes, as Al S noted the 50 will be much improved when it goes back to Lander St. Having that bridge done is very useful to West Seattle folks transferring to Link, the need to budget for a potential 10-15 min train delay was always an annoyance. Hence why the 50 should never use Spokane St.

  8. The bridge crisis, the new South Lander Street overcrossing, the completion of the deep bore, new office buildings on 1st Avenue South, and the H Line together imply a need for network changes, but not of a single squiggly route. When implemented in 2012, Route 50 there may been too many cooks in the kitchen; it is pulled in too many directions. Do not let the crisis go to waste. Link itself provides good east-west connection between SODO and the Rainier Valley.

  9. People talk a lot about wanting to truncate routes to Link stations. Let’s get bus riders onto trains. Let’s drop them off at the station. If the route 50 skips the Holgate diversion, and does a straight shot across Spokane St., but adds a new bus stop somewhere along it, route 50 riders, instead of being dropped off almost in front of SODO station, would be faced with over a half mile walk, or another bus ride, to it.

    1. The context of the neighborhood and streets matter. There’s latent demand for a fast crosstown route between southwest and southeast Seattle. The 50 could be that but its SODO detour adds several minutes to the route, which is enough to change it from good to bad for this purpose. The only other crosstown route is the 60, but it doesn’t go east of Beacon Hill and is also slow. Martin mentioned going from Columbia City to Alki, and there’s also people going to the Junction businesses, to Columbia City, to relatives in Rainier Valley, and to Seward Park.

      The C is not a flaw; it’s a great connector between West Seattle and Link. It prefigures West Seattle Link. Just consider it a rubber-tire Link extension for West Seattle, and add runs to it if necessary to replace any SODO transfers. They can be short runs, just from the Junction to Westlake Station.

    2. You have to ask where people are coming from and where they’re going to. Most riders could (depending on where they’re coming from), switch to Link back in the Rainier Valley, walk directly to Link, avoiding the bus altogether, or (in the case of West Seattle) ride the 21 instead.

      There is little reason for anyone to want to ride the 50 to SODO Station, except as a workaround for the C-line being overcrowded, in which case the solution is not adding to detours to the 50, but adding trips to the C-line.

  10. Seem to remember I used to pick the 39 on Sunday. It was just that kind of a route.

    But the Othello/Myrtle Place/Spokane Street/Alaska Junction line I’m talking about, I’d make it a pretty much point-to-point express. Give it comfy seats just because.

    No, I’m not to give it to Uber or Lyfft, or even put a purple mustache under the front of the bus. Hopefully COVID will have a shorter lifespan than anybody reading this.

    Mark Dublin

  11. The 50 provides a critical link from West Seattle to 1st and Lander. About half of the bus gets off there for jobs at the Starbucks Center and the Seattle School District. And Link is a better connection to the Rainier Valley. Most of the rest of West Seattle riders get off to transfer at the busway stop at 5th and Lander. The 50 does help cover much of Seward Park. With the Lander overpass this delay will be minimized. The city and Metro are likely to increase frequency in the coming years coming out of West Seattle due to the bridge failure.

    1. The 21 also goes to 1st and Lander, and has easy transfers from most major bus routes.

      And yes, Link provides a better connection, because the 50 does such a poor job! That’s the point!

  12. The 50 going to SODO has never made sense to me. Pretty much any trip imaginable that involves taking the 50 to SODO, there’s some other option available that does it with similar travel time, be it Link, walk->Link, or another bus route such as the 21, 107, C-line, etc.

    I’m also not sure what the market actually is for Alki->SODO (without a transfer to the 21) or Alki->Rainier Valley. If the market is small, it’s worth considering a restructure that just gives up on the east/west connectivity and focuses on the shuttle trips on each end. At first glance, I could imagine such a plan working as follows:

    – The 50 is truncated to operate between the VA Hospital and Othello Station only, following the current routing.
    – The 128 is modified to turn left on Admiral Way, following the route of today’s 50 between Alaska Junction and Alki Beach, replacing its current tail, which continues straight down California Ave.
    – To mitigate the coverage hole at the 128’s current tail, water taxi shuttle route 773 is modified to take California Ave., rather than Harbor Way. The lost coverage on Harbor Way would have essentially zero walkshed.

    Such a plan would likely result in a net reduction in service hours, since you have one less bus slogging through SODO, plus avoid redundant service on California Ave. between the 50 and 128. This could be used to avoid cuts elsewhere, or it can be re-invested by slightly increasing service on the 128.

    Of course, this is all predicated on the assumption of low demand between Alki and SODO/Rainier Valley. If this isn’t the case, maybe the Spokane St. route, which at least straightens the 50, is the best call.

    1. “The 50 going to SODO has never made sense to me.”

      It’s one of those things that looks good on paper. “Look, we’re reforming the grid, sending two former downtown routes (39 and 56) to Link instead.” That seems to be why Metro keeps doubling down on the stop.

  13. The 50 does a lot of things, like:

    1) Provide the only all-day service off of the peninsula for Alki, Admiral Way and a part of California (between Alaska and Admiral). The only other buses are the 128 (which heads south) and the shuttle to the ferry (which runs very infrequently).

    2) Connects those riders to Link.

    3) Gets those riders, and other riders to SoDo. As mentioned, the 21 does that as well, but that is a bonus. If you are on Avalon, either bus will get you there. If you came from Fauntleroy and rode the C, it doubles the number of buses that don’t involve backtracking. If you rode the 120, it is the only option that doesn’t involve backtracking.

    4) Connects riders to buses that use 4th or the SoDo Busway.

    5) Provides the only east-west connection between Highland Park Drive and downtown. As eddie suggested, you can go all the way downtown and all the way back (maybe via Link) but that could take a while (especially if neither leg is Link).

    6) Is the only bus that gets really close to the V. A. It is about an 8 minute walk from 15th to the main hospital. Google says it is 7 minutes from Beacon Avenue, but I think there is likely a back way that could save some time.

    7) Provides east-west service on Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley, connecting all the major north-south transit routes (60, 36, 7 and Link).

    8) Covers Seward Park.

    But even with all that, it doesn’t perform that well. A big part of that is because it takes a while. I think it is also dependent on other buses. I find it interesting that it performs better than average during rush hour, and worse than average at night. Maybe it is all those riders headed to SoDo for work. Maybe at night, when frequency drops, it just doesn’t work. A grid is highly dependent on frequency. If you have to wait a long time for a transfer, people find other ways to get there.

    While I appreciate this post, I find nothing compelling with Martin’s idea. We would be abandoning reliability and Link at just the wrong time. The Lander overpass is almost done, and so is Northgate Link. We also lose service (from this bus) to SoDo. I don’t think that is a good trade-off.

    I can think of three options:

    1) Cut bait. Abandon the idea of an east-west bus. Run the 56 all day. At most modify it so that it turns on California, and then follows the C downtown. Run the 50 from Beacon Hill Station to Othello (on the existing route).

    2) Jesse’s idea up above (https://goo.gl/maps/6UDtXsH48KMbrPCx5). This dramatically speeds up the route, enabling better frequency. You retain the connection to Link (at Beacon Hill, not SoDo). The drawback is that you lose the connection to those buses, and you also lose the one-seat ride to SoDo.

    3) Al’s idea. Right now it would look like this: https://goo.gl/maps/e7kzs1CU9cG8ApHj7. Eventually it would do an additional dogleg using Lander. This route has all of the advantages of the second option, while also providing service to SoDo and connecting buses.

    With both the second and third options, a lot more people can have a one-seat ride to West Seattle while Seward Park riders have a one seat ride to more of Beacon Hill. Those headed to the V. A. from Link exit the station closest to it (Beacon Hill) and wait for the 50. But if they just missed the 50, they can take the 36 or 60. That is a huge improvement for folks headed to the V. A.

    Without looking at station data, it is hard to say what is best. It is quite possible that lots of people get off on First, close to Starbucks. But that is likely to be a rush-hour situation. I could easily see a bus designed just for that. Something like the 55/56/57, but with a different route to downtown. It would go over the Lander Bridge, then take a left and head downtown via the busway. It could be bidirectional, at least from downtown to Lander and First. That way someone who gets off of Link (or a southbound bus on fourth or the SoDo busway, like the 131/132) can avoid the long walk (if they time it right). Someone who transfers from downtown can use something besides the 21.

    At that point, the main advantage of the third option is connections to other buses. I’m not sure how important that is. Some of those destinations can be reached in other ways.

    It is a tough choice. If I wanted to play it safe, I would go with the third option. That just looks better than the current route for everyone. But if I wanted to shake things up, I would try that second option, maybe with some additional rush-hour service to SoDo.

    1. Classic too-many-cooks problem. All things to all people serves everyone poorly.

      I would start with this — cut SODO surface streets from the 50 altogether and run it on the Spokane Street Viaduct and straight up the hill to Columbian Way. Prioritize the core task: efficiently connect SW Seattle to SE Seattle.

      Addressing the main points above (and mostly agreeing with them):

      1. East-West service Alki to Admiral and off the peninsula: Run the 56 all day, totally agree. Alki to Admiral to Alaska Junction: Reroute the (erstwhile) 22 to terminate in Alki instead of North Admiral and double its previous (awful) frequency. Terminate the 50 at Alaska Junction (a reasonably high-quality transfer point), keep routing through Delridge. (Sidebar: If I were in charge, I would make other changes to the 22 and focus it to become a primary intra-WS north-south route focused on California Avenue.)

      2. The 50 connection to Link in SODO is the worst version of “split the difference”. Going south? Ride to Columbia City. Going north? Ride into Downtown. You only deeply-inconvenience riders who have a destination of Mount Baker station.

      3. Convert 21-to-SODO from “bonus” to “deliberate decision”. You’re going to SODO? Find your way to the 21 at 35th/Avalon (C) or S. Spokane St (120/125/56/57). With the Lander Street Bridge about to open, intra-SODO reliability goes up and connections at 4th/Lander to Link and the Busway improve greatly. (Improve the bus facilities there while you’re at it.) Intra-SODO travel has its own problems, out of scope here.

      4. See above re: 21.

      5. The 50 goes nowhere near Highland Park Way…?

      6/7/8. Utility is largely maintained in SE Seattle. Maintain route in SE Seattle though perhaps terminate in Seward Park rather than double back along the southern tail to Othello.

      1. I think the problem is that we can’t afford all that. Begin with the assumption that 15 minute frequency is adequate (it isn’t, especially when lots of transfer are expected). OK, so now we are running the 56 all day, every 15 minutes. Now we are running this faster version of the 50. Even with the speed improvement and even after truncating in Alaska Junction at one end, and Seward Park at the other (both quite reasonable) you can’t possibly afford 15 minute service on that route. At best you have 20, and that is probably pushing it. I don’t think the line can survive running every 20 minutes. At that point, the only coverage part of the route is Seward Park, and we’ve dropped some of that coverage. That looks like a 30 minute line, which means it has no chance as a connector. Riders are better off just riding the bus (or train) all the way downtown, and all the way back. I’m afraid that the only way an east-west route can exist is if it also serves as coverage route for a border-line area (like Alki and Admiral). It goes back to what Joe Z wrote up above. If we had a more frequent network, then such a bus would be extremely popular. But lacking such funds, we either have to cobble something together, or give up the idea of an east-west route.

        Regarding point 5. Sorry for the confusion. My point it is that if you are trying to go east-west, there is a huge gap. South of downtown you have only this bus, until you get very far south. I made the mistake of choosing the 131 (which goes on Highland Park Drive SW) but even that isn’t the case. It is really the 60 that provides the first east-west route south of the 50.

      2. With the Lander Street Bridge about to open, intra-SODO reliability goes up and connections at 4th/Lander to Link and the Busway improve greatly. (Improve the bus facilities there while you’re at it.) Intra-SODO travel has its own problems, out of scope here.

        I don’t follow you there. If the 50 goes on the Spokane Street Viaduct then nothing goes over the Lander overpass. The 21 doesn’t connect to 4th and Lander, unless you are proposing we move it there. If we did that then the north part of 1st (where most of the people are) is left with the 118/119, which means practically nothing. The problem there is not West Seattle getting to those areas, but anywhere in the city.

        Which really epitomizes the West Seattle problem. The C will rapidly go from the peninsula to downtown. Likewise with the 120. Commuters from various places (including the 21) enjoy such an express ride. But in the middle of the day, we ask the 21 (which includes High Point — coincidence?) to do the dirty work. Instead of cruising along the highway — when traffic is light — it provides coverage for an area that really needs coverage. Much of SoDo is neither here nor there. Still largely industrial, but with plenty of new office buildings (https://goo.gl/maps/UwJLuRKrtuCMZoA86). It is like South Lane Union, caught before it transitioned. Thus you can’t expect the E, for example, to extend into SoDo, like the C extends to South Lake Union. It is up to the 21 (or some other West Seattle bus) to do that.

        Therein lies the problem. Like much, if not most of Seattle, it just needs more money. A leaner, faster system can work really well if we can get decent frequency across the board. But without it — with the current half-ass funding for buses (and the ridiculous overspending on trains) we are stuck. The only way we can justify an east-west route for West Seattle/Beacon Hill/Rainier Valley — at a measly 15 minute frequency — is by providing the only service to Alki (and other parts of West Seattle). Unlike much of the city, there is no easy solution (other than spending more money).

      3. On dollars: Granted. If taking budget practicalities into effect, then yes, we cannot afford all this right now. If dollars were unlimited, this proposal could serve as a planning vision.

        On 4th and Lander: the 21 did run on 4th, using Lander as the cut-through prior to the beginning of bridge construction — the 1st Avenue S segment is a recent innovation. I have assumed it’s return following construction and apologize for not making that clear(er). (Aside: I made this very 21/50-to-Link transfer on a near-daily basis this for a while. I lived on Avalon Way and worked in Tukwila. As both buses served my home, I deeply resented how the 21 and 50 stopped at different places for their SODO station connection and had to carefully time which stop I walked to in order to go home.) That said, serving 1st Ave S between the stadiums and Lander St. has merit as well. There are a good cluster of businesses and even some nightlife there.

    2. “While I appreciate this post, I find nothing compelling with Martin’s idea….”

      Agreed, for the exactly the reasons you’ve given. I just don’t see very much gained by the OP’s proposal. If the Lander St overpass is ready to go, then I think Al S.’s suggestion makes a lot of sense.

      The segment that most interested me (and the segment that I’m most familiar with personally) was the section that you included in your item #7 above. I’d love to see the Metro stop data on this part of the Columbian Way-Alaska corridor that connects Beacon Hill to Columbia City. Has the development around MLK and Alaska St increased east-west demand along this corridor that transit can play a role in, and, if so, is this demand throughout the day? Any thoughts?

      1. The segment that most interested me (and the segment that I’m most familiar with personally) was the section that you included in your item #7 above. I’d love to see the Metro stop data on this part of the Columbian Way-Alaska corridor that connects Beacon Hill to Columbia City.

        I would love to see the stop data as well. In general this is one of my big complaints with Metro. It isn’t easy to get the data. I realize it would take some work, but we should be able to get stop data on every bus route. Even if it is presented in a form that isn’t easy to understand, there are people out there who can parse it out. In this, the information age, we should have easy access to that data.

    3. The 50 serves three functions: Rainier/Beacon crosstown service, SODO and VA coverage, Alki/West Seattle crosstown service. All of these are worthwhile but they don’t have to be the same route. The 50 is an attempt to provide a full crosstown route like the successful 8, 31, 32, 44, 45, and 60. Metro has tried this before more than once between West Seattle and Columbia City and failed, so it’s not surprising the 50 has a hard time at it. But its slow middle is exacerbating the problem and driving away riders. Martin’s proposal is not new, and it would serve those riders.

      Since the 60 is successful, maybe the 60 should be rerouted east to Othello Station and Seward Park, and assign the north-south portion to another route. Metro is already planning to split the 60 long-term. If the 128 were extended to Alki, people could potentially take the 128 from Alki to White Center and transfer to the 60 to Seward Park.

    4. “Provides the only east-west connection between Highland Park Drive and downtown.”

      This is confusing but I think Ross is trying to say the only routes that cross the Duwamish River to the industrial district (SODO/Georgetown/South Park) and sometimes Beacon/Rainier are the 50, 60, and 131. The problem is the words “connection between”: it’s not referring to connecting Highland Park to downtown but the space between them where other routes could be (and the 50 is).

      (The 21 serves another part of SODO on 1st Ave S, but it’s separated from the rest by the railroad tracks, so it’s partly a different transit market.)

  14. Personally, I think the half-assed West Seattle->Rainier Valley connection offered by the 50 is not really any better than no east/west connection at all, since it doesn’t actually save time over just taking the C-line downtown and switching to Link.

    There’s also some redundancy in the north part of West Seattle, between the 50, the 128, and the 773 water taxi shuttle, indicating an opportunity to make things more efficient.

    So, here’s what I’m thinking:
    1) Reduce the 50 to run through the Rainier Valley only, perhaps from VA Hospital to Othello Station, following the 50’s current route. If it’s cheap, this could be extended northward a bit to Beacon Hill Station, but don’t go to SODO.

    2) Reroute the 128 to Alki, taking over the 50’s current tail.

    3) Reroute the 773 water taxi shuttle to take California Ave., rather than Harbor Way, replacing the coverage lost by moving the 128.

    The savings from eliminating the SODO slog could pay for running the 773 all day, even when there’s no water taxi, or it could go to offering minor frequency improvements on other, related routes such as the 128, C-line, 21, etc. It could also go toward increasing a bit the span of service on the 56.

    But, ultimately, West Seattle->SODO has the 21 and Beacon Hill/Rainier Valley->SODO has Link, so neither really needs the 50.

    1. “the half-assed West Seattle->Rainier Valley connection offered by the 50 is not really any better than no east/west connection at all, since it doesn’t actually save time over just taking the C-line downtown and switching to Link.”

      Many trips would require a third seat in Rainier Valley, since Link is way in the west and has only four stations there. The 50’s slow middle is so mediocre it’s not much better than nothing, but I’m not sure its benefit is zero.

    2. That sounds like a variation of my “cut bait” idea. If I follow you correctly, that brings up some interesting points.

      All the areas north of The Junction (Alki, Admiral, etc.) would have a two-seat ride to Link or downtown. The latter isn’t that bad, but it means a three-seat ride to non-downtown Link locations (which is soon to be U-District, Roosevelt and Northgate). The same is true of Martin’s idea.

      There is no need to move the 773. The 775 covers the north end of California Avenue. It really only works to connect riders to the ferry though. An all-day version of those shuttles would have to be altered. That could work, but it would likely be loopy (https://goo.gl/maps/8t8tomri6qNLJmcSA). Worth noting is that these ideas lose the connection between Delridge and the Junction. You could make the West Seattle circulator even more loopy (https://goo.gl/maps/CrLnu4g8amSbxrh66) but that seems like a bus few would take.

      If we are willing to break the main east-west connection *and* ask folks in Alki to have a two-seat ride to Link (and downtown) I think I would do this:

      1) Get rid of 50 east of the V. A.; send it to Beacon Hill Station instead.
      2) Get rid of the 128.
      3) Truncate the 125 at South Seattle College.
      3) Replace the western part of the 50, the southern part of the 125 and the entire 128 with this: https://goo.gl/maps/RodsFQUBSRJLDrQx6. Run that bus frequently (every 10 to 15 minutes).

      Riders from downtown headed to South Seattle College would take the C, 21 or 120 — whatever bus comes first. Then they would transfer to this bus. Those doing the opposite would take this bus or the 128 (whichever comes first) and take the (soon to be RapidRide) 120. Folks headed from downtown to Alki would do something similar. People at Alki and those transferring from the 120 would have a more frequent trip to The Junction.

    1. For years we’d been asking Metro for more crosstown routes and access to Link stations outside downtown, and for a West Seattle to southeast Seattle route. It took decades of public pressure to get the 8, 31/32, and 48 created, so this was one more of those. The 50’s area had three long slow milk runs to downtown, the 39 from Seward Park, the 42 on MLK, and the 56 from Alki/Admiral. West Seattle was extremely downtown-oriented: it was easy to get from Alki, the Junction, 35th, Delridge, or 16th to downtown but you couldn’t get between them. It was like each of those was a separate island, and you couldn’t get to the district’s own commercial center on transit. So the 50 connected Alki to the Junction, and the Junction to 35th and Delridge, and all of them to the VA and Rainier Valley. It also provided new service on Othello Street to connect east of Rainier to Othello Station.

      The original proposal was half-hourly, but activists demanded a Beacon-Mt Baker shuttle and a stub 42, so the hours were taken out of the 50. It initially had 45 minute frequency if I recall; at least the Othello part did. The 50 was supposed to make it so you didn’t need to drive to the MLK stations and park in a P&R, but that was reduced for a status-quo milk run and a redundant shuttle. Later years both raised and lowered the 50’s frequency; sometimes it was hourly on Sunday, other times it had 15-minute peaks.

      Since there had never been a route on SW Genessee Street or to SODO Station, people underestimated how long these would take. Now after experiencing it, Genesee is so steep and narrow that I’m not sure it’s suitable for a bus, especially the only route serving Alki and Seward Park. The SODO detour takes several minutes and seems lightly used. I thought there would be people flocking to a closer Link station, but they may have reacted as I did at the slowness in Genesee and SODO and switched to the C instead Plus, what if you take Link to SODO and it’s a half-hour wait for the 50 and there’s nothing to do but stand and stare at the concrete.

      My first choice would be a nonstop route between Delridge and Columbian Way. Let’s see whether that would finally improve southwest-to-southeast ridership or not.

      My second choice would be to route it through Holgate Street and north Beacon Hill as RossB suggested. That would allow it to serve Beacon Hill’s main business district, which would give all the other areas more access to Beacon Hill.

      My third choice would be to split the route. The 128 could be extended to Alki, the Genesee part could be deleted, and southeast Seattle could be restructured somehow. While that would lose 35th and Delridge’s access to the Junction, I suspect few people are willing to ride 1-2 miles to the 50 and transfer to a half-hourly route for one more mile. That’s a lot of rigamorole to go just three miles.

      1. Thanks for the detailed reply as well as all of the historical information about route 50 and the others. I’ve never personally taken this route but I did work in Georgetown and then North Delridge for a number of years when I lived in Seattle and relied on transit to get around. Thus, I totally get what you’re saying about these “little islands”, as you put it, when it comes to east-west connectivity across these sections of SE and SW Seattle. With regard to the route 50 specifically, I would advocate for splitting the route and figuring out a better configuration to serve the Beacon Hill-Rainier Valley-Seward Park segment. As I mentioned up above, I’m really curious to see what the data currently tells us about the demand for transit across the Columbian Way-Alaska corridor (the connection between Beacon Hill/VA and Columbia City). I have to assume that Metro has that stop data.

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