Route 246, one of the few all-day routes suspended entirely

We’ve reported extensively on Metro’s darkest day, when the service reductions due to COVID-19 were refined, and the temporary service suspensions seemed less and less temporary. While the bulk of service reductions were applied peak-only service, there are a handful of all-day coverage routes that remain suspended: routes 22, 47, 71, 78, 200, 246, and 249. While many (if not all) of these routes were difficult to use or served areas where ridership is difficult to attract, some of the few people who rely on these routes are getting the shortest end of the stick. While everyone else gets their all-day service back in some form or another (albeit often with dramatic cuts to frequency and/or span of service), these riders have to wait for improved economic conditions to get their service back. Below I will describe these suspended routes, and suggest smarter ways to restore service that may make more sense than merely restoring service to how it was pre-COVID.

Route 22: This is largely a coverage route, running from Alaska Junction to a loop around Arbor Heights, serving Westwood Village and filling in the part of California Ave SW not served by the C-Line. Route 22 connected to nearly every route in West Seattle, giving it good potential to reach many places with a single transfer. Unfortunately, undoubtedly because it’s difficult to use and doesn’t get you many places on its own, this route is small enough to remain suspended.

The most sensible alternative to me is to extend the 125 to Arbor Heights in lieu of the 22. This fairly straightforward change will give the most isolated part of route 22 midday service, while leaving the 120 and 21 to cover the rest of the 22’s service area. Extending route 22 would provide different but probably more desirable destinations (downtown Seattle and South Seattle College), while still allowing for connections at Westwood Village. Headways on route 125 are 30 minutes on weekdays and 45 on Saturdays, no Sundays (though Saturday would likely worsen to 60 minutes if extended), meaning an extended route 125 would meaningfully improve convenience and ridership without dumping a ridiculous quantity of service hours into it.

Route 47: This is a short route connecting the Summit neighborhood to downtown, with a northern loop on Summit and Bellevue avenues, and a southern loop on Pine and Pike streets. This route was formerly part of route 14, but was split off when route 14 was through-routed with route 1. Route 47 was actually eliminated in the 2014 cuts, but restored next June with funding from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Its old PDF timetable makes the route look comically short, and while provides a connection downtown that is more useful than looks on its map, nearly all of the routing in Summit is within a couple blocks of better, more frequent service on routes 8, 10, and 49. The most sensible iteration of route 47 might be something like route 3122 in Metro’s long range plan network map. This route would be a local route filling in coverage around Summit, Eastlake, and Montlake, with connections to UW and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Routes 71 & 78: Having their familiar old 71 deleted entirely in Metro’s Alternative 3 U-Link restructure proposal, Metro relented to the negative feedback and restored the 71 in the final draft. Since this left a hole in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, Metro added a very short route 78. As is often the case with late-round reversals that bring back routes that weren’t designed with the modern route network in mind, routes 71 & 78 were infrequent (generally every 30 minutes or worse), didn’t run as late (10 PM for the 71, and 6:30 PM for the 78), and ran 6 and 5 days/week, respectively. Route 71’s coverage was essentially the same as the pre-U-Link route 71 north of UW (just truncated to UW Station), while route 78 covered much less area than the route 25 it replaced. Route 25 included a very long loop through the neighborhood traveling to the southernmost tip of Laurelhurst. While clearly overkill, route 78 replaced this with merely a pair of stops in the vicinity of NE 41st St and 42nd Ave NE, and then a layover at Seattle Children’s hospital. This route was by far the most surprising to me, as I have a hard time understanding how it made sense to run a route through UW for just a pair of stops and Seattle Children’s, especially when continuing on 41st St for six more blocks would bring you to Laurelhurst Park & Community Center, a destination that would provided at least a little transit ridership if there was transit to ride.

For these areas, Metro’s DART route 941, which was part of the Alternative 3 restructure proposal, would be a better replacement. It would offer off-peak fixed route service to route 71’s tail, but part of a more grid-like north/south alignment. Much of the missing coverage in Laurelhurst and Wedgwood would have been part of its DART service area, which would allow the few riders in this area to request a pickup in advance (rather than running fixed-route service there when no one is likely to ride). Service as originally proposed would have run hourly 5 days/week. Since service is consolidated into a single route, this would make it easier to bring half-hourly and weekend service to both areas as improving revenue allows.

Route 200: This was a local route in Issaquah that ran in a bit of a “U” shape around I-90. Running off-peak only, it was fare free (provided by funding from the city of Issaquah). Being nearly impossible to use by commuters, its only ridership would be local residents making trips within Issaquah, or late morning/early afternoon trips into a nearby city via Issaquah TC. Not being a particularly useful route in its own right, this service would be better replaced by extending route 271’s infrequent Issaquah tail to Issaquah Highlands via the northern part of route 200.

Route 246: Running weekdays only and once an hour, route 246 moves in the general direction of route 271 in Bellevue, hitting a grab bag of otherwise unserved neighborhoods in Factoria, Bellevue, and Clyde Hill. Without the ridership to support anything more than this bare-bones service, there aren’t any obvious changes that would make this route more appealing to potential riders except perhaps a peak frequency boost (since this route served downtown Bellevue and multiple transfer points to Seattle, Redmond, and UW), which would help commuters.

Route 249: This route consisted of a string of lower ridership segments running from Overlake to South Bellevue. Route 249 connected to Overlake P&R, S. Kirkland P&R, and Bellevue TC. Despite these three major connections, service never ran better than every 60 minutes and extended deep into sparse neighborhoods, so ridership was not high enough to be restored in September.

Overlapping service concept to replace route 249

While the ends of the route have very little ridership, the section in the middle from Overlake to Bellevue TC anecdotally had better ridership. Since East Link will run in the general vicinity in 2023, this may also be a good area to begin building ridership demand. So a good way to restore service in this area might be to run two routes (let’s call them route 248 and route 249), overlapping in the highest ridership area in the middle. Both routes run every 60 minutes out to the ends, but coordinate to provide 30 minute headways in between. This way, both ends will still have service sized appropriately for ridership, and both ends still have a direct connection to all three transit hubs, with the more popular section getting double the frequency.

A loop like this to W. Lake Sammamish Blvd could provide baseline service for this area at half the cost of the two-way route on the 249. Shown in purple is another routing option that serves Overlake Village and P&R.

Additionally, the eastern part of the 249 is a long and circuitous tour through the neighborhood east of Overlake, running out to Lake Sammamish and back before arriving at Overlake TC. This routing makes little sense, and discourages trips connecting to other service at Overlake TC (and future Redmond Technology Station). Instead, a loop could serve the neighborhood at half the cost of running two-way service, and trips from the west would stop at Overlake TC prior to continuing out to Lake Sammamish. In this concept, route 248 and 249 would stop at Overlake TC, but only route 248 would continue through the Lake Sammamish loop.

49 Replies to “The suspended all-day routes”

  1. Metro and Sound Transit should both be very grateful to STB for this amount and quality of help. But since the Route 71 used to be a favorite DSTT run of mine, how about this:

    If the 71 starts terminating at Roosevelt Link Station when the line opens next year, might that save enough money to take care of the service that the 78 was intended to cover?

    Mark Dublin

  2. The 71 never went near Laurelhurst so it’s not related to the 78. The 78 replaced part of the 25, as you said later. The 25 was an ultra-meandering route from Laurelhurst to Montlake, then backtracked to almost the University Bridge (on the south side), and down Lakeview Blvd to Eastlake and Stewart Street to downtown. It had the lowest ridership imaginable, with 0-2 riders in the Capitol Hill area and about as little in Laurelhurst. The 78 was an attempt to keep some service in Laurelhurst and connect it to a Link station. The 25 always ran on 45th, but the 78 had an innovation of dipping down to 41st. This was to gain ridership in the UW family housing area. It didn’t work.

    In contrast, Fuhrman Ave and Lakeview Blvd lost all transit service and never regained any. I felt sad for those living in the apartments there who may have expected transit but lost it, and it’s a long walk to any other route. But then, they weren’t riding it even when it was there.

    I love the silly little 47. Because it’s lightly used and a trolleybus, it’s a quiet respite to relieve stress, so I’m always glad when it comes first. I can see why it’s one of Metro’s most endangered routes but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. Of course I can’t ride it now because it’s suspended. Off-peak it’s pretty empty but peak hours it fills up. Part of the reason it’s empty is Metro sabotaged its ridership in the years leading up to the 14 split by scheduling it a few minutes after the 43. So people who could take either route took the 43, whereas if the 14 came first they’d take it. Worse, the 14 was so unreliable it was usually 5-10 minutes late and sometimes more, so you might wait for a 14 but none would come until after the next 43, so you skipped the first 43 and ended up on the second. That drove even people who lived far on the 47’s tail to take the 43 and walk because you couldn’t be sure a 14 would even come.

    I now live where the 10/11/43/47/49 overlap, but earlier I lived on the 14’s unique tail in Summit. I used to walk to Pine Street when the 14’s schedule didn’t match mine, and I walked to Westlake Station imagining that’s how I’d catch future Link. It took twenty minutes to walk from Thomas Street to Westlake Station. The 47 looks short on a map, but when I looked at an apartment at the northern terminus of the 14, and walked down to Pine Street to see how long it would take, it takes longer than you’d expect, twenty minutes or more. The 49 is a steep hill away, and that hill is unwalkable in winter when its icy. The reason Metro reinstated the 47 was elderly people complained they couldn’t walk up the hill to Broadway, and Summit is one of Seattle’s densest neighborhoods so a significant number of elderly live there.

    Metro’s long-range plan replaced the 47 with two routes, for combined 15-minute service. One would extend the 47 to the area abandoned by the 25 to UW. The other would start in Uptown and go to Bellevue Ave to Roy and east on Aloha Street, creating a new east-west corridor north of John. Both of these would go both ways on Bellevue Ave, which is an arterial unlike Summit Ave. A third route would follow the 43’s path but use 19th Ave between John Street and Aloha Street to replace part of the 12’s tail. These three routes would serve parts of the 47.

    A problem with these routes, and with ideas for the 2 and 49, is that they’d lead to contraction of the trolley network, because Metro almost certainly wouldn’t add miles of wire to the unwired streets. That would be a sad loss for those who like trolleybuses because they’re quieter (almost silent whne the HVAC is turned off) and smoother, and the trolley wire connotes the former streetcars and is a guide to navigation and where the route goes.

    1. Despite the successful(ish) effort to keep the 71, it’s substantively just not the same kind of route after U-Link, and that’s because the needs are different. Today, no one needs a 71 to take them downtown anymore, and much fewer people today rely on the 71 now because so few people relied on that Wedgwood tail. With the 25, there was very low ridership across the board. The middle part had service on routes 49, 10, 12, and 48, so those were reasonably easy to drop, but the Laurelhurst tail didn’t have any nearby service. This is what the 78 would have purportedly solved, but it just didn’t. The 78 is just really dumb. It spends precious service hours circling around UW, and then goes almost nowhere, when going a little bit farther would help redeem the service hours it does spend at UW.

      Before U-Link, saying something like “let’s create a route that combines the 25 and 71” would be ridiculous. But when all you really need are the tails, it makes some sense; this is why Metro proposed the 941. Before, people didn’t like this because it took away their familiar bus and had a new (and slightly longer) service pattern, so it was a tough sell. But a change like this would be an easier sell now that there’s no bus, and serving both areas with a single bus probably about as long as the new 71 would be a win for efficiency and level of service.

      1. I definitely agree re the 78. I took it a total of one time, basically accidentally, when I was at U-Village and needed to get back to Health Sciences but didn’t feel like walking up the hill. I was planning on taking the 31/32/65 but somehow the 78 showed up, so hopped on. I think I was the only one on the bus (waste of a 40’ coach).

      2. The successful campaign to retain the # 71 was because King Country Councilmember Rod Dembowski didn’t want it eliminated because his family rode the route. Under the original restructuring plan for NE Seattle it was to be cancelled along with the # 72.

        I still remember being in touch with him and his office about the # 72 which is the route I rode and he said that he would fight to retain it. But being a typical politician he didn’t care about me or my interest but only the one for his family.

    2. Mike, Metro’s Trolleybuses have batteries now. The rerouted 2 can drop wires for 2 block section no problem. And with the way Battery tech is improving, theres no reason that the combined 36/49 wouldn’t be able to do the same!

      Let me repeat myself because everyone here seems to ignore this idea when I bring it up.


      1. FDW, seeing that the two of us are the only one’s who’ve even mentioned modes of electric propulsion in a very long time, the way I’d put it is that if anybody else even thinks about it, they keep it to themselves.

        But meaningful answers require some specifics. In particular, exactly how long far can the trolley fleet we now have travel with its poles down?

        If we can’t restore the George Benson line, at least we might honor the late Councilman’s air quality concerns with a rubber tired fleet powered with an electric motor.

        But but crossing the very-heavily-traveled train tracks at Broad Street at the north end, BN might have some problems with trolleywire that freight trains might not clear. Which would also call for an auxiliary electric package of hundred percent reliability with the poles down.

        Also, wired or not, could power collection be modified so the coach could re-charge on whatever those new plug-in pantographs are called? Let’s ask somebody who knows.

        Does anybody have any references for us?

        Mark Dublin

      2. Yet Metro doesn’t seem to want to use this feature except in short-term situations. It has rejected all our ideas for routes that go a little further than the wire or through a short gap in wire.

      3. Then keep pressing Metro. Get City Coucil involved. If Metro insists on being pound foolish, then make them pay the political price for it. And I know its pound foolish, because they’re obsessed with saving a few pennies on Battery maintenance! They don’t even have the”not in America” excuse anymore!

      4. In my opinion, it’s obvious why Metro’s perspective is to not run scheduled, routed service off-wire over the long term using battery-backed trolleys. There are two reasons I can think of just from being a regular rider of those trolleys.

        First, the battery backup system doesn’t always work. I’ve been on a handful of trolleys that simply stopped moving when the poles fell off of the wire. The driver had to fiddle with it for a couple of minutes or had to get out and reattach the poles for us to continue. Having a scheduled gap (instead of an accidental “oops, pole fell down” or “oops, overhead wire failed” one-off) increases the chances of riders being impacted by that.

        Second, the automatic pole reattachment system doesn’t always work. Again, like the batteries, it’s rare but having a known gap in the system increases the chance of it being an issue.

        (If we were actually building more trolley wire instead of putting up poles and then just kind of shrugging when it comes to finding the money to actually run the wire, I’d say we should push a lot harder for these kinds of routes. Do it on the logic of “run the route like this for six months to a year while you plan out stringing the overhead wire.”)

        All of that said, I did notice trolleys running on the 44 while there was construction under the wires along Market near the Locks and they were running poles-down so perhaps Metro is thawing in its opposition.

    3. I lived in the Ben Lomond back in the late ’70s, so can attest that the #14/47 provided an essential service running north of Olive, being a good hike up the Hill to Broadway, especially in icey weather.

  3. The 249 if I remember is the north Bellevue Way/NE 20th Street route. I lived in two apartments along north Bellevue Way in the 80s (and two other apartments along south Bellevue Way), so I took the then bus down to Bellevue TC and up to Kirkland. There are a lot of apartments along north Bellevue Way so I’d think it would be a moderate ridership area. But Metro’s recent reports have said it’s a low ridership area, and it has had the lowest-level coverage route for the past decade and in future plans.. That surprises me, but Metro knows ridership. I was surprised that 112th and 116th were chosen to make more frequent while north Bellevue Way was not. Of course, their expansion makes sense given the medical district expansion.

    NE 24th Street didn’t have a route when I lived there. Later it had a daytime-only route for the office parks. I couldn’t ride it when I went to a users’ group evenings and a conference one Saturday because it didn’t run then. Now it has a full-time coverage route. Of course, both these areas are suspended now so there’s no transit service.

    The route numbers are confusing to me because when I lived in Bellevue the 226 was on NE 8th Street, the 249 was on Bel-Red Road, the 245 was a peak express on south Bellevue Way to Renton Boeing, and NE 20th Street didn’t have a route. Now the B is on 8th, the 226 is on Bel-Red, the 249 is on 20th, and the 245 is Kirkland-Bellevue-Eastgate. So I keep forgetting where these routes are and which route number is on a certain street. I can remember the route map visually more, but not the number of the route, and I sometimes make a mistake and think the 249 is on Bel-Red when that’s its earlier routing. I’m finally starting to remember the 226 is on 12th/Bel-Red because I’ve started walking on 12th Street regularly rather than waiting for the B, so I see the 226 sometimes and that impresses it in my mind.

    1. NE 24th 20th Street didn’t have a route

      24th and West Lake Sammamish Parkway maybe had a couple peak-only routes.

      1. My memory’s kinda foggy, but I seem to remember a route 233 in the 1990’s on Bel-Red rd which went out to Avondale. And as far as south Bellevue Way, wasn’t there a route 222 which went down there?

      2. I think the 233 or whatever it was that you are thinking of used the strange little triangle in the middle of nowhere as it’s turn around/layover. Always seemed like the strangest place to end a round. IIRC there is a trailer park near there? Wouldn’t have taken much to extend to Bear Creek P&R which would also serve the Woodinville library.

    2. The route numbers are a bit weird. One thing I noticed looking back to the B-Line restructure was that while some numbers were recycled (e.g., the 250), some routes like the 249 were just modified multiple times in the years since, and over time moved completely. This is probably why you end up with routes as weird as the 249 at all.

      One reason it may be a low-ridership area despite intuition is that it’s a chicken-and-egg problem. If you have a car and can drive to S. Kirkland P&R pretty quick, it objectively makes no sense for you to take the 249, which runs once an hour. Bumping it to 30 minutes would probably not do a lot but it would help, as would increasing the span of service. When you consider that 116th Ave on the east side of 405 has had 15 minute midday service for a long time (on the 250 today, and the combined 234/235 for years before), that would be a big part of why ridership is higher (aside from the hospital).

      One goal of this post is to point out that it seems like that a lot of areas on the 249 that now have no service for the foreseeable future are only in this predicament because in past restructures, they had their fates tied to very low ridership tails. This suppressed ridership in the middle (because the whole thing runs hourly) and as a result, the low ridership + long tails with almost no ridership makes this a route to cut in tough times. This is something that would be good to change once Metro has the resources to restore service here.

      1. Alex, I don’t have the numbers, but, maybe you do … with the route 246, doesn’t the vast majority of the ridership happen between the BTC and the Eastgate P&R, and very little ridership happens between the BTC and Yarrow Point?

      2. I haven’t seen segment-specific ridership for the 246, but that would make sense. It would be interesting to see the ridership difference between the Clyde Hill part of the 246 and Medina part of the 271 and see how much of a difference the induced demand (because the 271 is much more frequent, runs later and 7 days/week) makes on ridership.

    3. Route 249 was revised in fall 2011 around the B line. It was reduced in fall 2014; that is when the midday headway became hourly. On 148th Avenue NE, it replaced former route 253. It was flipped with routes 234 and 235 (now 250) so that more service was provided to the hospital district. It has coverage loops at both ends.

  4. A couple of thoughts.

    – The suspension of low ridership suburban milk runs proved low income multi family housing isn’t appropriate for certain neighborhoods.

    – Part of me believes making adjustments to milk runs is pointless. Lipstick on a pig. They will always be milk runs. Let them be milk runs. They have their place. If changes are needed, do it around the time East Link opens.

    – Lastly, If Metro thought these routes had low ridership before, just wait until they are brought back. Many former riders now have new travel routines. It will take a long time to build back ridership. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never brought them back.

    1. A milk run is a long meandering route that stops at every little haystack along the way. The current 226 and 249 are stitched together from the tails of previous routes. They aren’t meant to make an end-to-end statement; they’re just aggregations of smaller corridors. The higher-ridership segments of the former routes were consolidated into frequent corridors. This is more efficient because high-ridership corridors need more frequency than low-ridership corridors, and separating high-ridership and low-ridership corridors avoids underserving one or overserving the other. The 1/36 split, 14/47 split, and 1/14 reconnection were also for the same reason: half of the old routes were higher-ridership than the other half. So the high-ridership halves needed more frequency than the low-ridership halves.

      The 62 is in some ways the opposite: the eastern half acts like a coverage route while the western half is standing room only south of Fremont. This is an attempt to create a high-ridership corridor on 65th for future Sand Point/Ravenna to Roosevelt Station trips. But in the meantime, the western half of the route is subsidizing the eastern half and saving it from extinction. Because Metro’s accounting is by service hour, and the 62 end-to-end is just over an hour, so the average ridership across the whole route is still above the threshold for a cost-effective route. The Eastside has such a lower level of ridership across both “high-ridership” and “low-ridership” routes, that the high-ridership segments aren’t enough to save the low-ridership segments that way, so it’s more efficient to stitch all the low-ridership segments into one or two routes to burn a few service hours on.

      I really don’t understand why north Bellevue Way’s ridership isn’t higher so that it can have a strong route rather than a minimal coverage route.

      1. The other good thing about the 62 tail is that it doesn’t meander: it’s just a straight shot down 65th nearly to its layover point, with few traffic lights or other obstructions. It’s not like other routes where the tail meanders through neighborhood streets, plus the bus has to layover somewhere so it might as well pick up some riders along the way.

    2. The point I never got around to saying is, that because the 226 and 249 are stitched together and have no end-to-end coherence, there’s no reason they have to remain in their current forms forever; they can be split and attached to other routes. For instance, some transit fans have argued to put the 271 on north Bellevue Way. If I were still living on north Bellevue Way, I’d like that one-seat ride to the U-District and downtown Bellevue. I don’t particularly need a route to NE 20th Street; I’d go to Kirkland more often than that. But I understand how it makes sense in this stitched-together paradigm.

      But that doesn’t mean these stitched-together routes can’t be split again later, as long as riders can at least get to the nearest shopping center/transfer hub. For north Bellevue Way that means Bellevue TC and the South Kirkland P&R (for downtown Kirkland). For 20th Street, that means Overlake Village. And I can understand 20th needing some anchor on the west, and there’s nothing directly west of it to go to, so turning south to Bellevue TC is as good as any.

  5. Thanks, Mike. What’s now the 47 may be suspended, but it’s also neither gone nor forgotten.

    When it was part of the 14, that wire was a favorite of mine because passing under the monorail inbound I could activate flashers, order an espresso out the window, and have the barista hand it up to me next trip around.

    Considering the amount of monorail the voters did approve some years later, we really should make Westlake Station straddle Pine Street again but this time with an engineer rather than a promoter heading the project and ONLY if by contract the 47 drivers still get their drive-by coffee.

    Tough, simple, quiet and clean, rubber-tired wire started service with wood-spoked wheels and, hard-rubber tires, and likely a socket for a buggy whip just in case. For heavy loads and steep grades, natural successor for the cable car.

    Anybody want to weigh in as to current relative cost and competence between these long generations of wire and the new generation of batteries chargeable in-service? Will latest buses handle wire and battery on same trip?

    Mark Dublin

  6. And also, the Historic Society must help Monorail Espresso, whose present address is around the block on Pike Street, to also re-install the original cart under the rebuilt pillar on the south side of Pine. Especially since it’s neither Secessionist nor Pro-Slavery, we surely do not want to Bury Our History! “Don’t Forget the Fourteen!”

    Mark Dublin

  7. O Great Sam, here’s a historical assignment for you. Did Bel-Red Road at one time go straight southwest to downtown Bellevue? I’ve always known it as it is now, merging into NE 12th Street. But on the map there are some curious diagonal street segments west of 124th that may have been parts of an older extension. And normally a “City A- City B” road goes to the center of City A. And I think the center of Bellevue was at Main Street & Bellevue Way. I suspect 405 obliterated the downtown part of it, and for some reason they terminated it at 124th & 12th rather than; e.g., 116th & 6th. The current configuration of 12th/Bel-Red zigzags in a way that has always seemed excessive.

    1. That weird angle is still there and comes out on 120th. It goes behind the Post Office that was originally a Honda motorcycle dealer. The sign on 129th still says Bel-Red Rd.

  8. When route 8 eventually gets split, I wonder if part of route 47’s path could be restored as the layover tail of 8E, while the eastern portion of route 10 or 11 gets spliced with 8W.

    1. I’m not sure if I follow you. You mean this: If so, I don’t know if that gets you much. The 11 will provide east-west service if you are headed towards Madison. The 49 connects you to Link. If the 49 keeps going straight (towards Beacon Hill or Rainier Valley) then what the area would need is frequent service to downtown. Likewise, if the 11 goes to Lower Queen Anne, then we could use more buses on Pike/Pine. The only thing that would is make the turn of the existing 8, which is something Metro is trying to get rid of. Metro, in their long range plan, has the MLK bus just end at Madison. As long as the new 11 and the 48 are frequent, that makes sense to me.

      If I had that wrong, first, my apologies. But also, what are you proposing?

    2. Metro’s long-range plan for the 8S is a stub from Mt Baker Station to MLK & Madison. I’ve long been concerned about the northern terminus because it’s almost the middle of nowhere. The 47 is a one-anchor route from the northern residential area to Pike/Pine and downtown which have beaucoup destinations and transfers. Most of the 8S’s ridership is to Broadway/SLU/Uptown. The 3997 would be a zero-anchor route, with little significant on any of it and requiring a transfer at either end to get anywhere. So the northern terminus should be extended somewhere; I just haven’t been sure where. But overlapping the 8 to at least Capitol Hill Station makes sense, and that would preserve a substantial portion of current riders.

      Brent’s alternative (my interpretation was the same as RossB’s) at first struck me as absurd: the demand from Summit is to go southwest, not southeast. But then I remembered it’s similar to my earliest ideas for the 47. I thought it could go east to Capitol Hill Station. That would be a substantial draw, both to Link and to Broadway destinations. Connecting it to the 8S seems strange, but it is a way to stitch together coverage routes as we’ve been talking about with the 226 and 249 in Bellevue.

      How would that interact with Metro’s plans for two other routes in Summit? One like the 25, the other from Uptown to E Aloha Street. Would there be three routes there?

  9. It makes sense that the 47 is suspended, but I’ll miss it. There are other routes nearby, but it was convenient for residents of the Summit neighborhood and Lakeview, and is nice when carrying something heavy.

  10. The problem with the 47 is that it runs infrequently. (Or did run infrequently). Except for rush hour, it ran less than every half hour. It also lacked clock-face scheduling. Someone who lives in the Summit neighborhood can’t glance at the clock and think “the 47 comes at 12 after and 42 after”. They are stuck with very infrequent, irregular service. This is bad for any route, but when there are alternatives (that aren’t that far away) then it is a bound to have low ridership.

    This is one of the few routes that would likely see higher ridership per hour if they increased frequency, due to the high density there. If they ran it every ten minutes, it would get a lot of riders. While many of those riders would be switching from other modes, a lot would be switching from other buses. Thus you would see a good return on investment for this bus, but lower overall return for the system. In these tough times, that isn’t gonna happen.

    The greater Central Area (which includes Capitol Hill) is long overdue for a restructure. The last attempt was a good first step, but it suffered from the fact that only one Link station was added — and it was added in a place that was awkward for buses. While Judkins Park will make a difference for a few riders, it shouldn’t cause a big restructure. The next big thing to happen for the area is Madison BRT. At that point neither the 11 or 12 make sense, as currently routed. The 2 will also be shifted away from Seneca (likely doglegging up to Pike/Pine). By then we will have Northgate Link, and it is reasonable to send the 49 from the UW to Beacon Hill or Mount Baker Station.

    At that point, a grid for the most densely populated part of the state is a good idea. Complicating matters, though, is the fact that there are two street grids (if only Denny and Boren would have listened to Maynard). Fortunately, there is enough demand in South Lake Union to justify a route along Boren (even if it is clogged during rush hour). This definitely wasn’t the case 20 years ago.

    That is a very long way of saying that the entire area needs a major restructure, which should happen with Madison BRT (or soon after). In Metro’s long range plan they have the idea of “frequent” routes, and “local” routes. The implication (to me, anyways) is that “local” routes only run every half hour. For areas like this, that should be a rarity. If you want to cover the far edges of Leschi, maybe. But not areas with this kind of density.

    I’m not sure exactly what I would do with the 47. As mentioned, it runs under wire, and running a lot more wire is expensive. I’m also not sure if it is necessary, or wise. If the 49 keeps going on Broadway (towards Beacon Hill or Mount Baker) then folks north of Denny will flock to the 47, especially if it runs every 10 to 15 minutes. It is also not clear how many buses will run on Pike/Pine. The 11 could go to Lower Queen Anne (taking over part of the 8). The 12 could go away (or go north-south, paralleling the 48 and 49). That would leave the 47 and the 10 as the buses that serve Pike/Pine as well as parts of Bellevue Way (between Denny and Pike). At that point, those two buses could be synced up — each running the same frequency, providing combined frequency of 5 to 7 minutes in the middle of they day. That would be a successful bus.

    1. Argg. All those words and I forgot a couple. I meant to write:

      This is one of the few routes that would likely see higher ridership per hour of service if they increased frequency, due to the high density there.

      This isn’t true of every route. If you run a coverage route twice as often, you get more riders, but not enough to cover the extra runs. In this case, though, there is plenty of density — riders aren’t using it because the frequency is terrible and they can walk to other bus routes (or call a cab — it is a fairly cheap fair to downtown and even cheaper to Link). For a route like this, if you ran twice as many buses, you would get more than twice as many riders.

    2. I would have used the 14N more often if it came every ten minutes rather than every half hour. The half-hour scheduling forced me to forego trips, keep track of the schedule, waste time waiting for it, or walk down to Pine & Bellevue where there were more route alternatives. But whether it would greatly increase ridership overall? I don’t know. In any case, we need to focus on getting back ten-minute service on the major routes before we can worry about the minor ones.

      1. My point is that the only reason this is a minor one is because Metro makes it one. With a simple restructure (combine the 49 with the 60 and run the 47 a lot more often) and the 47 becomes a very cost-effective bus. It runs through one of the more densely populated areas in the state. It is just that for much of its route it shares the path with several other buses (that run more often).

  11. “For a route like this, if you ran twice as many buses, you would get more than twice as many riders.”

    Quite possibly true. But, it’s still spending a lot of money to get people off their feet (or other bus routes), rather than out of their cars.

    Agree that some sort of major restructuring in the Capitol Hill area is in order, and that new crosstown bus routes, should be a priority. It is rediculous that, in this day and age, a bus route between First Hill and SLU still does not exist.

    1. A lot of the riders using a frequent 47 would be switching from taking cabs or driving. Even if some of the people don’t own cars, we shouldn’t punish the more densely populated areas, just because they are likely to use transit (no matter how inconvenient).

    2. You also missed the point. Alex implies that the low ridership is because this is too short. My point is that it is too infrequent. If you run those other buses less frequently (and switch frequency to this bus) then suddenly the 47 looks like a very cost-effective bus.

      You can’t say that about the 22, for example. Run it every ten minutes and you still get very few riders.

      But back to the 47, it means that it can be part of a major restructure, and do a lot of the work that other buses are doing. For example, send the 49 to Beacon Hill, combining it with the 60. In the process you can straighten it out (no detour on Madison). Send the 11 to lower Queen Anne (taking over the 8). Get rid of the 12.

      OK, now you only have one-bus on Pike/Pine (and Bellevue Ave). That is way too few at current service levels. You could increase frequency on the 10, but the tail of the 10 is much weaker than the tail of the 47. Furthermore, you create an even bigger hole than exists today (as riders who currently walk to the 49 have to either deal with a tedious two-seat ride to downtown, or make a longer walk to catch the 10 or Link). It makes way more sense to run the 47 more often. It essentially becomes a simple split, with half the buses headed up to Summit, and the other half up to Volunteer Park.

      1. I want to have the 2 running every 5 minutes between Pike place and Madrona during 6AM-9PM window, and with Artics. For the 47, I would be aiming for like 10 minute daytime frequencies. At that level, you can just force transfers. (Though I’m assuming an Aloha route in this idea, and that whatevers on 15th is extended North to connect to 36/49)

      2. Madison BRT is only going to run every 6 minutes. It is hard to imagine the 2 running every 5 minutes to Madrona. Ten minutes is optimistic (but reasonable). Likewise with the 47 (and 10, and 49…).

      3. Some of Metro’s earlier proposals had the 2 and 3 running every 7.5 minutes. I assume when the 2/11/49 are consolidated into the 2 it will run every 5-7 minutes. It’d better because the 11 alone is an artic and is standing room only during peak and sometimes other times.

        The 2 and 3 were in the RapidRide D or E restructure, but were withdrawn because status quo advocates didn’t want any changes to the 2 or 12 or 5, so Metro withdrew entire neighborhoods from the restructure for rethinking.

  12. The 22 used to very infrequent as well. It is a coverage route, and making matters worse, the coverage isn’t great. For example, one of the few destinations along the route is Chief Sealth High School. It sits about half-way between 35th and Delridge. But very few from that high school would bother with that bus — they would just walk over to Delridge. The same is true for the apartments next to the school. Some of the other streets have apartments or destinations (e. g. a hospital) between those two corridors, but they sit too far away. The biggest gap is between 35th and Fauntleroy. But even then very few people would ride this bus. From 39th east it is just as far to Delridge. West of California is a green belt. So you basically have a very tiny strip of low density housing, and that’s it. Even then, most of those transit riders will just down the stairs to Fauntleroy, or walk over to 35th.

    As a crossing bus, it can’t compete with the 128. It is too infrequent. At most it connects to Sealth (and that is pointless now). Overall, I don’t see any justification for it, even when the pandemic is over, and even when the city/county has more money. For example, I would rather increase service on the 125 than extend it.

    If we want an all-day coverage route, then the case for the 57 is much stronger. West Seattle in general is very challenging from a transit perspective. There are pockets of density/destinations, but the most part you have a mix of low to very low density. You could say the same thing about much of Seattle, but there is a subtle difference, and it shows up on the density map: Compare West Seattle with the area around Green Lake. From the air, they look pretty similar — lots and lots of houses. But in terms of density, the north end of Seattle just has a lot more people. That is in part due to just a lot more duplexes and small apartments, even in the areas zoned single-family ( West Seattle also has lots of green belts, caused by the steep terrain. This both reduces density, and makes it difficult to run buses.

    As with other parts of town, there should be restructure, but it is challenging. I have some ideas, but they would stray quite a bit from the subject at hand. The 22 doesn’t make much sense to me — not know, nor in the future.

  13. Ross, I would rather have the 2 be the only route on the Pine st corridor. I would have the 47 take over the Seneca st portion. Like my earlier idea for the 1 and 3, I see it as a way of getting Metro comfortable with taking off-wire in regular service. 15th Ave E really should be served by the 60, or some other circumfrental route.

    1. Good point about the 2 (I forgot about the 2). Once the Madison BRT gets here, it makes sense to send the 2 doglegging up to Pike/Pine. I wouldn’t have any bus on Seneca, and the only bus on Spring would be the Madison BRT.

      We are getting into implementation details now, but the 36 is a trolley, while the 60 is not. So I would send the 60 downtown, and connect the 36 with the 49. If that can be done without laying any wire (between First Hill and Beacon Hill) then great. If not, then it isn’t that much wire (about a mile and a half).

      I would probably keep the 10 as is. If I had another north-south bus, it would be the 12 going on 14th/15th.

      1. Theres wire connecting First Hill and Beacon Right Now, via Broadway. I would just have the 36/49 use that wire. I know 12th Ave has been popular choice for a new route in the past, but I would rather have that street be a specialized bike street. 14th/+15th had wires in the past, and make sense now as a grid route in the Central District.

        As for the 12, I’d lean towards getting rid of it, since the Aloha route I have would provide better coverage in that area.

  14. The 71 and 78 are going away soon, with the Northgate restructure ( The 71 gets replaced by the 79. While not what I would do, it is a reasonable approach — it is a pure coverage bus.

    The 31/32 extend into Laurelhurst a little bit, which is fine. The area is low density and fairly flat. Again, I would have done a little something more for the area, but it is hard to say if that is worth it. In both cases I’m OK with what Metro is doing.

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