44 Replies to “Follow-up on Northgate service hours”

  1. Part of the difficulty is not knowing how much of the North Seattle restructure was being funded by the 41 truncation. if I understand, the loss of the 61 and the 75’s corridor on Northgate Way were due ro covid, before this idea of shifting the 41’s hours to South King County came up. So does this mean there will be further cuts from the plan? The biggest thing I’m concerned about is losing 15-minute evening and midday service.

    The Lynnwood Link restructure will be coming up soon. Does this mean that every restrucure will now be a negative, with Seattle losing hours, and not getting any better service but sometimes getting worse?

    What bothers me is the council is treating hours that were serving the neighborhood the same as brand-new hours from a levy or economic boom, and throwing the premise of restructuring districts out the window. When Link replaces bus segments, the result is supposed to be more frequent feeders and crosstown service, not just an added transfer and no increase. The council seems to be saying, “It wasn’t in writing, so it doesn’t exist.” I thought it was in writing.

    This is leading to districts getting better or worse restructures depending on whether they occurred before or after November 2020. U-Link and the initial segment were before; Northgate Link is after. During the initial segment, the 42 was deleted, although it came back in a truncated and part-time form. The hours went back to Rainier Valley for the 50, a new crosstown feeder. If this had occurred in 2021, I guess West Seatttle or Auburn could yank the hours saying they’re poorer.

    Transit need is not just poor diverse areas, it’s also dense areas where a lot of choice riders and potential choice riders exist, people who will use transit more if it’s there. That’s what the performance metrics say, mostly ridership with some coverage. It sounds like this new — and welcome — emphasis on serving lower-income and diverse areas is not going to simply adjust the metrics but obliterate them — while saying they’re following the metrics.

    One problem in South King County is they don’t use the hours as much as Seattle does. So adding these hours will increase ridership, but probably not as much as expected, or make the buses look like Seattle buses. Will this even help the person in the article? It says they work at Ikea starting at noon, taking two transfers from somewhere. From where? Will it be on the routes that are increased? How much will it improve their travel time?

    Come to think of it, where will all these hours be deployed? South King County is a large place. Increasing a few routes doesn’t mean improving everybody’s trips everywhere.

    1. I agree. I also think there is the issue of restructuring one area, and not the other. When a restructure occurs, often it is aimed at increasing frequency, even though folks have to transfer. It doesn’t matter if that restructure was done with Link in mind, or not. We saw this with the East Side restructure done about a year ago. A lot of coverage was lost, but frequency was increased. It would be crazy to see the east side restructure — losing coverage and losing some connections — but then see that service go to another neighborhood, especially if that neighborhood doesn’t restructure.

      More than anything, that’s what bothers me. If we do a system wide restructure, and some neighborhoods end up with better service than others, so be it. But I have a feeling that there are areas that will get increased service without making any changes. That isn’t right.

    2. If I recall correctly, the language in the 2015 prop 1 explicitly required Metro to first allocate service as if prop 1 wasn’t there, then add prop 1 service on top of it. Otherwise, Metro could simply shift its base budget so that Seattle tax dollars would effectively be funding mostly service outside the city. Was this language removed in the 2020 prop 1? If not, it sure seems like Metro is violating it.

  2. Seattle has the land use to support transit. South King, for the most part, doesn’t. Because of this, the ridership potential in South King will always be very muted, compared to Seattle. Instead of shipping Seattle’s bus hours south, we should be upzoning more of Seattle, so that more people can live somewhere where they can take advantage of transit without 2-hour commutes.

    While South King could probably use somewhat more service than they’re getting, I feel the county council is taking the equity/racial justice thing too far. Living in a neighborhood with at least x% people of color, y% in poverty, should not be a requirement to get good bus service. General population density and ridership should be far more important. As RossB said, there are plenty of poor people/people of color/etc. living in parts of Seattle too, and we shouldn’t be pitting one group against the other.

    I’m also concerned about the implications this has for passing future transit measures at the ballot box. While I would happily vote for more transit service in Seattle and my own part of town, I would be much less inclined to vote for more taxes to fund new service concentrated in another part of town that I almost never go to.

    It’s too late, but I can’t help wondering if King County Metro should have been created with Sound Transit-style sub-area equity, where the tax dollars raised in each area fund service in that same area.

  3. As I wrote on Publicola (before you linked to it) I wonder how the county determines transit need. If you go by average income or wealth, then it will be very misleading. A few wealthy people in McMansions skews the numbers. It makes way more sense to look at the number of people living below the poverty level. Not just the percentage, but the total number.

    But even total number isn’t sufficient. We are talking about transit, not community clinics, or other public facilities. Transit Is more effective when you have density. Therefore, as a starting point, we should look at the number of people living below the poverty line (or some other measure) per square mile.

    We should also consider the cost of the improvements, to see where it can do the most good. Running buses to Auburn is expensive. Running buses from Lake City to Northgate is not. A million dollars of service will go a lot further in Lake City than Auburn.

    You simply get better bang for the buck in an area like Lake City. Not just in terms of ridership, but in terms of meeting the stated goal. For a given amount of money, you can serve a larger number of people in need in Lake City than just about anywhere.

  4. I also wonder if there is much analysis as to whether particular routes serve those in need or not. For example, it is easy to look at Kent and say that based on the number of low income residents, it should have a little more transit. However, if the transit they add is more express service to downtown Seattle, I’m not sure it if provides much help. Not only are those express buses very bad values, but they are typically taken by folks who have reasonably well paying jobs.

    The Northgate restructure has elements of this. Under the current plan, much of the money is going to express service to First Hill and South Lake Union. These operate in the peak-only direction. At the same time, all-day service is being cut by more than half between Northgate and Lake City. People who work 9 to 5 tend to make more money than those who work other shifts. Those who work 9-5 in South Lake Union make a lot more money. Those who need to access the clinics in Lake City or Northgate in the middle of the day are often those who are unemployed, or low income. From an equity standpoint, the proposed changes are worse than if they just truncated the routes at the Link stations, regardless of what they do with the savings. Yet if you just look at the areas served, it doesn’t look that bad.

    If we are going to be focused on people in need, then we should do an analysis of the various routes. Compare the 361 to 61, for example. The 361 only operates peak-direction, and gives riders along the corridor a one-seat ride to South Lake Union and downtown. The 61 operates all-day, increasing frequency between Northgate and Lake City, while also connecting Lake City, Northgate and Greenwood. Not only would this provide a fast one-seat ride between the communities, but an east-west backbone for the region. The 361 largely benefits well paid workers commuting to downtown. The 61 benefits those working in the service industry in Phinney Ridge, Greenwood Avenue and Aurora as well as those directly served by the bus. The 61 doesn’t help at all if you have an appointment at a clinic (unless it is an 8 hour appointment). The 61 helps anyone in the region get help.

    I’m sure formal analysis would confirm my hunch — if the goal is to help those who are hurting, the 61 is a much better value.

    1. “Under the current plan, much of the money is going to express service to First Hill and South Lake Union.”

      It’s coming out of existing peak expresses though, and making them more useful than they were (by serving job centers Link doesn’t directly rather than 5th Avenue). That’s not as good as converting them to all-day routes within North Seattle, but it’s not as bad as converting all-day routes to peak expresses.

      And “service for the poor” normally emphasizes off-peak and local service, so I’m not concerned about it going into peak expresses like the 162.

      1. It’s coming out of existing peak expresses though, and making them more useful than they were (by serving job centers Link doesn’t directly rather than 5th Avenue).

        Don’t be so sure. Prior to the pandemic, Metro ran the 309 and 312 to downtown. The 309 and 312 will be replaced by the 322 and 361. Both of these routes will go downtown — it is just that they will go downtown via First Hill or South Lake Union. My guess is a lot of people who would be well served by a downtown Link station just keep riding the bus all the way downtown. The main point is, Metro isn’t truncating anything along the SR 522 corridor. They are simply shifting the express buses around. Unless these express buses are faster (which seems unlikely, given the detour to Roosevelt Station) this is actually a shift *to* express service, not away from it. In other words, it is quite possible these express buses to downtown cost more money than the old express buses. At best they are revenue neutral. Keep that in mind.

        There are savings around Northgate though. I like to think of those as two steps:

        1) The 41 gets truncated.
        2) The rest of the 41 is replaced by the 75, and there is nothing to backfill the 75.

        Everyone is focused on the first one. It is clearly where most of the money is coming from. But their is a lot of savings from that second item. The 75 is not increasing frequency, so this is basically the service between Northgate and Lake City on the 41, not the 75. The 41 runs both directions, 12 minutes in the middle of the day, and 15 minutes the rest of the time. That is a fair amount of service that is just gone. Where did it go?

        The short answer is to some other region. Ultimately then, you have express service to downtown which remains the same (if not more expensive) and you have a cut in all-day service. It is as if the “keep it in the same area” idea only applies to express service, whereas the “spread the money around” idea only applies to all-day service. Even if the new bus routes are revenue neutral compared to the old ones (and I doubt that) the effect is clearly aimed at providing express, elite service for more well-off commuters, while degrading service for those struggling to get by. This is in great contrast to the stated equity goals.

      2. Ross, are you saying that there will be no bus following the current 41 routing from 125th and LC Way and Northgate? That the 75 will be the only service?

        That does seem very wrong 125th has a lot of mid-rise apartments, all the way across.

      3. The 75 is moving to the 41’s routing north of Northgate, so 125th and 5th. There will be no route on Northgate Way east of Roosevelt.

  5. “I have a feeling that there are areas that will get increased service without making any changes.”

    South King County just had a restructure two months ago that supposedly prepared it for Federal Way Link, and it made Kent’s network at least more rational. And the west side was structured a couple times before that. There are now half-hourly routes from e.g., Southcenter to Des Moines (156), Southcenter to Kent on 84th (153), Kent to Federal Way (183), etc. They connect all the cities so I assume they’re useful. One problem is they’re quick to drop to hourly evenings and Sundays, but that’s the kind of thing these hours would address. They zigzag a lot but I’m not sure how much that’s inefficiency and how much it’s serving density and job centers. IKEA has long been a transit hole, with less transit on 180th and Oakesdale than surrounding routes, so that’s part of what’s affecting the person in the article. So these routes at least you could just add hours. I don’t know of any other route that’s particularly inefficient for a long distance. The one that most bothered me was the Kent – Des Moines route with its detour on Reith Road, but that was restructured in September. it now goes north of 240th (Lakeside Blvd and Veterans Drive, 165). I don’t know if that’s better but it looks like it might be.

    “A few wealthy people in McMansions skews the numbers.”

    That’s what Balducci said but she took the other side of the argument. She talked about poor neighborhoods in the Eastside and how wealthy houses nearby erase that statistically. She may have been referring to Crossroads. She didn’t seem concerned about taking hours from the Eastside to help the poorer cities, although in that case it’s just theoretical while in North Seattle it’s specific actual hours. But by the same token, we could reduce service on the B and 245 and 226 and send it to South King County. Is Balducci OK iwth that? Or has she not thought that far?

    “Running buses to Auburn is expensive.”

    I think these will be local routes within South King County. So that they can get to the regional routes and crosstown easier. The 41’s hours wouldn’t go very far on the 150 or a new Seattle-Kent express.

    I want to write to the council but I’m not sure what to say. I can barely articulate my reasoning here where people understand the background. I don’t know how you convince people who think serving poor cities is the only value.

    1. I want to write to the council but I’m not sure what to say.

      I guess my big point is that if our goal is serve those in need in the most cost effective way, it is quite likely that Metro fails, and fails miserable with this restructure. More than anything, I have questions:

      1) Is the county using worthwhile data to determine people of need?
      2) Has Metro looked at specific routes to determine how well they serve those people?
      3) Has Metro looked at the timing of the routes with that in mind as well?
      4) Has the county looked at the costs and ridership of various routes to determine the most cost effective way to help people in need?

      My guess is the answer to all of them is “no”. As a result, this will not only be a shift from one area to another, but it is quite possible that it will shift things the wrong way. So not only is this not ideal, it is quite possible a step in the wrong direction for the stated goal!

      1. By the way, I know that last sentence is audacious. But consider:

        1) Metro is not truncating service at the Roosevelt Station.
        2) Service along the 41 path between Lake City and Northgate will get significantly worse. From 12 to 15 in the middle of the day, and from 15 to 30 at night.
        3) Service between parts of Lake City to Northgate will be gone. Essentially this piece won’t have all-day service to Northgate: https://goo.gl/maps/rQsqYYxrmpK9UPXX8. Of course some of those riders are close to the new 75. But that brings up one of the key points:
        4) Service from greater Lake City to Northgate will be cut more than half. One bus is gone, and the other bus runs less often (see 2 above).
        5) Some parts of Northgate Way won’t have any all-day service: https://goo.gl/maps/rQsqYYxrmpK9UPXX8.
        6) Further west on Northgate Way, between 5th and Roosevelt Way, service to Northgate is reduced roughly in half. Instead of riders being able to take the 67 or 75, they will take only the 67.
        7) South of Northgate Way along 5th, service to Northgate will substantially reduced with the switch in service from the frequent 41 to the less frequent 75 and with the elimination of the other bus.

        That is a substantial reduction in service in an area with plenty of low income riders. It is quite likely that no routes in the south end come close to the cost efficiency of just keeping the old 41. That would be silly, of course, but it be a retention of existing service levels.

        In contrast, consider Sound Transit’s decision to truncate the 522 and run it more frequently all day long. This is a huge improvement for trips along that corridor. Not only do those riders have much better frequency in the middle of the day, but the bus goes to more places. Riders along that corridor will have a direction connection to Roosevelt, and with it, all the transfers — to both bus and train — that come with it. For example, getting from 20th and Lake City Way to Greenwood won’t look like this: https://goo.gl/maps/QcPp18eVtdF692M66. By the way, the trip time does not count the wait time. So the fastest choice does not take 44 minutes, but 51 minutes (and it involves 15 minutes of walking). I don’t think there is any question that everyone along that corridor — rich and poor — is helped by that change. Sound Transit is actually fulfilling Metro’s mission better than Metro.

      2. “15 to 30 at night.”

        I didn’t notice that. I thought it was just the 75’s routing, not the 75’s lower frequency too. The 75’s suburban frequency. Which is understandable for Sand Point, but not between Lake City and Northgate. Maybe there will be short runs.

      3. It shows how difficult it is to make a simple change. The segment between Lake City and Northgate is a relatively small part of the 75. If you increased service to match the 41, then service along the rest of the route is kind of out of proportion. It isn’t hard to justify (after all, the 65 used to run every 10 minutes in the middle of the day) but not if they are cutting overall service. It is a subtle, unfortunate change made all the worse by the elimination of the old part of the 75 (Lake City to Northgate via Northgate Way).

        If we could get back to pre-pandemic funding, then I would push for running the 65 and 75 at the same levels (e. g. 12 in the middle of the day). That would be slight degradation for the 65, but get the segment of the old 41 up to old levels, while the combined area has much better service. Likewise, I would run the 61 at the same level, opposite the 75.

  6. This whole debate ignores a larger one: expensive peak-direction only buses (which require a larger fleet, with hybrid diesels, and tend to have more well-to-do “choice” riders) vs. the all-day grid. There could be more service hours, buses, and operators available for every part of the county if Metro re-examines the peak-only services and looks for all the opportunities to make use of, rather than compete with, Link and Sounder. First Hill is just one painfully obvious example where the service pattern does not fit the need.

    A whole lot of the suspended service ought not come back in its previous form. New South King County route 162 should also be under a microscope. The excellent proposal to make Sounder’s reduced fares match the rest of Sound Transit’s (and Metro’s) reduced fares will help immensely in removing the justification for route 162, in favor of more local service, some of it providing better connections to Sounder stations.

    BTW, I have to cringe when I see more peak express buses being added because of less Sounder service. The big capital of expense of paying for the right to get to have those Sounder runs at the pre-pandemic level is an already-sunk cost. The question of how much it is costing Metro to save ST some operational expense ought to get a close look.

    All that said, I think, politically, throwing away every other lens to focus just on the equity lens is very risky, especially when it comes time to vote on a countywide tax package to fund better Metro service. To not hold onto enough hours for the new local bus service grid around the new stations, with improved frequency, is bad politics. To not spread the peanut butter and give other parts of the county improvements they have long been waiting for is also bad politics.

    Not every local route in the new North Seattle grid has to be frequent, but the main ones serving the densest corridors certainly ought to be. Bringing back peak service for well-to-do commuters who happen to live in South King County at the expense of not providing the improved local connectivity to the new stations will come at a price of being able to sell future restructures to the public, not to mention trying to sell TOD in the more affluent parts of the county.

    1. I think Brent makes a very good point, and that is “equity” transit that reduces transit service in more affluent areas that tend to have high voter turnout is going to risk future transit levies, both because of the reduced service, and because voters won’t trust the promises in any future levy.

      It is one thing to say Move Seattle simply underestimated project costs (which is damn annoying), but another to say we gave your transit service to another area based on the political winds.

      If anything the council should have used the mayor’s $100 million communities of color fund to augment transit service, not a zero sum reallocation. And maybe Metro should revisit its plan to electrify by 2026 that will provide poor communities fewer but electric buses. How does that help poor communities?

      I think it is a mistake to believe a single ideology — whether it is religion or Urbanism — will solve all issues, from global warming to affordable housing to transit to equity, and sometimes you have to make choices that benefit one issue but disadvantage another issue. IMO frequent transit service for poor communities today trumps electric buses tomorrow, or cannibalizing transit service from a key area that will be critical to pass future transit levies. Again how will that help poor communities in the long run, except politicians don’t think past the next election.

  7. I just remembered, the greater Northgate area gave up a P&R expansion for better feeders. Metro/ST determined that most cars at the P&R came from east and west, and when they asked the community whether they wanted a bigger P&R or bus/bike/ped improvements, three quarters of the feedback was for the latter. “The only reason I drive is east-west buses are so infrequent or nonexistent, sidewalks are missing, and there aren’t good bike paths.” Northgate was the only area I’m aware of to turn down a P&R. It was going to be rewarded for that, but now… not?

    Maybe Seattle Subway could put together a petition about these issues. Where is the Transit Riders Union on it? The TRU focuses on service for the poor but it has also stood up for the basics of a good transit network when it was needed (for Link, the RapidRide restructures, the 2014 cut restructures, surcharges for Metro service, etc).

    1. Maybe Seattle Subway could put together a petition about these issues. Where is the Transit Riders Union on it?

      Part of the problem is the framing. If this is seen as a fight over ridership versus equity, then you will find very few supporters. Likewise if your fight is based on regionalism — as Dembowski’s was seen — you will likely lose the way he did. If you explain that this actually hurts those in need, or is a very bad value for those in need, then it is a different matter.

      For the reasons I mentioned in the comments up above, I think this fails to provide for those who depend on transit, while bending over backwards to serve those who don’t.

      The problem is the proposed network assumed there was a 61. Then, when things got tough, they got rid of the 61, while keeping the express buses. It went from being a disappointing, but still reasonable proposal, to being a significant degradation in many respects. Imagine, if instead, they did the following:

      1) Eliminate the 41 and 309.
      2) Truncate the 312 at the Roosevelt Station.
      3) Have the 75 take over part of the 41 (as planned).
      4) Run the 61 opposite the 75.
      5) Take the savings and put it into service system wide, based on a careful assessment of cost and need.

      For that fifth item, there would still be a lot of service. The new 61 (all the way to Sunset Hill) takes a lot less time to run than the old 41, especially when the express lanes aren’t in its favor (which is more than half the time). You also save money by eliminating the 41 buses that only ran from Northgate TC, as well as saving money from truncating the 312.

      You would still have the other changes that are being made (many of which are overdue). The overall system becomes better, and connections to Link — and the region as a whole — improve substantially.

  8. I live and work around North Seattle so I’m not exactly impartial. Equity concerns are real and some parts of the county have been historically under-served. But I feel that Metro should have some clearly written guidelines for how service levels can be changed within the county. I also don’t like absolutes, so I don’t think Metro should be forced to use all of the 41’s service hours in north Seattle, but nor do I think it’s fair to residents of Lake City and Northgate for the 41 to go away without any improvement in local service.

    Going beyond the Link restructure, could Metro say something like “The 75 in north Seattle runs every 15 minutes while the 107 in south King County runs every 30 minutes. Let’s swap those frequencies at the next service change to better serve equity concerns.”

  9. So, let’s suppose bus X carries 10 black people, 5 white people and bus Y carries 10 black people, 10 white people. Which route is more deserving of service upgrades?

    Rationally, the answer should be route Y. Under any mathematically possible weighting of black and white, route Y is more productive. But, it is also easy to imagine people who are big on social justice, but not good with math, arguing for route X because a greater percentage of the passengers on board route X are people of color, even though route Y actually carries the same total number of people of color as route X does.

    By shifting service away from Seattle, the county council seems to be favoring route X.

    1. Yes. You can also swap “poor” for “black”, and “rich” for “white”. Either way it is the same problem.

      I’m not convinced it is this clear cut. I’m not convinced that it isn’t, either. My fear is that Metro is that the county is making poor decisions based on rough data. It would be like running buses to the Oakland Hills. (Oakland still has a lot of people of color, and a lot of folks who struggle to make ends meet. But they don’t live in the hills.)

  10. M own transit-riding-history includes some years when I was simultaneously a Ballard resident, a King County voter, a student at Lake Washington Tech above Kirkland, a substitute teacher at Highline Community College, and a tutor in both Kingsgate and Lynnwood.

    So Councilman Dembowski, had you not better check and see how many of your constituents fill that bill to the “Full” line? Before you embarrass yourself and tell me that your district gets no benefit from Rainier Valley ridership’s just being there. As opposed to their residing, say, in….Oregon?

    King County Council Chairman Claudia Balducci also doesn’t seem to be experiencing any conflict between being the mayor of Bellevue and never missing a single Sound Transit Board meeting.

    Over the years, without a word of ridicule about being urged to consider a Cross-Kirkland-Connection that would feature a trailside streetcar line with bike trailers. And an incline-style elevator at South Kirkland permitting through service between Totem Lake and Bellevue!

    I voted to approve Sound Transit, and would do again if necessary, on my understanding that at this point in history, the freest life is Regional. Delivering the most generous choice of residence, employment, education, and enjoyment.

    National Public Radio’s stock-market reports indicate that Money’s already long-since found its own vaccine for COVID. So until human volunteers also have a chance to get their shots, I suggest ongoing ZOOMs between your voters and their fellow passengers, and students, and business-people south of Jackson Street.

    If ORCA doesn’t make you fellow-passengers, that’s what you and all your colleagues are there to fix. At first post-COVID opportunity, will gladly yield my time before Security can even get there.

    The Recovery we will need to save our Country looks a solid funding-bet for jobs both building transit and running it. Future’s yours, Councilman. Your career has certainly bought you naming rights.

    Mark Dublin

  11. I thought that Metro mostly drives these decisions based on current rider numbers. It turned out that the South had a lot less rider reduction than the North, I assume there are more essential workers in the South and more WFH people in North. I think that Metro is trying to adjust its network to address that new reality. Yes, it would be so much nicer if this could be done with additional service hours, but current budget doesn’t allow for that. May be it would be ok, if Metro would only move the extra hours Link service represents to the South…

    1. I doubt that is the case. Rush hour ridership has been hit the hardest, yet rush hour service is supposed to improve (with lots more peak-only service to downtown) while all-day service within the neighborhoods gets worse.

    2. Also, in the time it takes to debate service changes, gather feedback, and prepare updated schedules, a vaccine will be finalized and distributed, so by the time the COVID-driven service adjustments actually take places, there’s no COVID anymore.

      This is not academic. If the Pfizer results hold up, it is easily conceivable that a large majority of the population gets vaccinated right around the time of the Northgate bus restructure.

      1. asdf2, given the level of responsibility and professionalism with which our country’s whole establishment has handled the present pandemic, I’d hate to see you bet anything you need on the claims of any participant.

        But I also refuse to accept that equity has to be a matter of somebody losing. One conceptual approach I’d like to see us consider: Could we try assigning service by corridor rather than residence?

        Our last monorail attempt. Engineers who should have known better put their knowledge and prestige in the service of some dreadfully bad design.

        To some of them, I think that in their hearts the Ballard-CBD-West Seattle corridor made the task worth it. Still is, only with the correct tool-set for it’s own particular use.

        I’m not kidding about Ballard-CBD-Mercer Island-Bellevue either. In any living creature, whether organ, nerve, bone or muscle, no body part can long survive substandard circulation. Or fail to benefit from its healthy increase. In their own way, veins, arteries, and nerves also Apportion.

        Mark Dublin

      2. There are no guarantees regarding vaccines yet. I trust the pharmaceutical heads more than I trust you-know-who, but when I hear it from the government’s epidemiological pros (not their political appointee bosses), then I will start to believe it. I suppose I should trust the pharmaceutical heads less due to the opioid crisis, price gouging, etc.

        Regardless, ending the virus does not guarantee a mass exodus from work-from-home. And schools should be the first institution to fully re-open.

        On top of that, Northgate Link will open in the middle of fall flu season, during which it may become a new normal for mask-wearing for a couple weeks until the CDC gives the all-clear, unless the CDC wants herd immunity to less-deadly respiratory viruses. Every time a politician compares the coronavirus to a typical flu strain, it begs the question: Would it be a good idea to take the lower-mortality/less-contagious flus more seriously? Now we know how, just like we know which way to run if an earthquake strikes while we are on the beach.

      3. The timetable for widespread immunization has always been sometime in the fall of 2021. It is not just the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, it is all the various vaccines that are going through trials: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html. The point is, it is quite likely that when Link gets to Northgate, and the bus restructure is implemented, the pandemic will be waning, both here and in the rest of the world. Even if it takes a while — say six months — for ridership to get back to normal (for people to feel comfortable taking the bus again) — it would be ridiculous to base the restructure on pandemic patterns. We will be living with these routes for years; a year after Northgate Link opens, Covid won’t be a a pandemic (and instead will be just a nasty disease that occasionally strikes, likes measles, mumps, rubella, polio, etc.).

  12. I attended the Sound Transit online open house for the Roosevelt light rail station, and there learned that Sound Transit has started the process to add a 522 stop in the vicinity of Lake City Way and NE 15th St. This will be a nice improvement.

      1. The 522 already stops at Lake City Way south of 20th Ave NE so I am wondering why they would add another stop at 15th Ave NE. That stop was added when the #72 was eliminated which provided service along NE 80th between 15th Ave NE and 20th Ave NE.

      2. The 522 already stops at Lake City Way south of 20th Ave NE so I am wondering why they would add another stop at 15th Ave NE.

        Because it is a long walk between there. It is about a third of a mile, or 520 meters (Lake City Way is running at an angle through there). That is well beyond standard *European* stop spacing, and quite appropriate for a route like this.

    1. That is excellent news. I’ve argued for this, as well additional stops on Lake City Way. I wasn’t expecting any of that though, so this is great news.

      There is a weird relationship between Metro’s buses on Lake City Way and the 522. Metro will only run their buses during rush hour, and they will stop at most bus stops along Lake City Way. The 522 will run all day, every day, but as an express for sections. This is backwards. The all-day bus should make all the stops, while the rush-hour express should skip stops. We are more or less stuck with this arrangement because of the different agencies, and the reluctance to change everything up. Sound Transit’s willingness to add a stop is a very good sign.

      Ideally they would add other stops along Lake City, if nothing else during the time when Metro’s buses aren’t running. That would probably require changing the numbers though (e. g. having a 522 and a 523) with one bus more of an express than the other.

      1. The other thing that makes no sense is that the peak direction only service on the Metro 312 is $2.75, while the all-day service on the Sound Transit 522 is $3.25. So the “choice riders” are getting a discount while poorer, all-day riders now pay $3.25.

        During peak, it creates a weird setup where you can wait for the next bus a few minutes later to save 50 cents and get a paper transfer, which is usually for for 3-4 hours or more instead of exactly 2 hours you get on your ORCA card with Sound Transit.

      2. “The all-day bus should make all the stops, while the rush-hour express should skip stops.”

        This is annoying but East King is paying for it, and East King is going downtown. And enjoying their new 2-seat express to the U-District. And it will go away in a few years with 522 Stride anyway. We should be more concerned about that, whether Metro will replace it with anything, or whether all expansions will be only in South King County unless Seattle pays for them.

      3. This is annoying but East King is paying for it, and East King is going downtown.

        That doesn’t mean the two agencies can’t cooperate better. Seattle pays for its own service, but they manage to pay for extra service like the 120, which goes outside of Seattle. In this case, I’m not talking about deviating from the route — simply making stops. Seattle (or Metro) could easily cover the cost (however minimal).

        To be clear, adding this stop is a good first step.

      4. It’s not cost, it’s travel time. If the bus stops exist, the cost is only adding a number and schedule to the stop, which is a drop in the bucket in a service change.

    2. The other interesting things about this change is that it makes the proposed 73 weaker than ever. The new 73 is slightly different than the old one. It will dogleg on Lake City Way from 15th (north of LCW) to Roosevelt Avenue (south of LCW). The 79 will provide service on 15th between 65th and 75th. That means that the 73 only provides unique service between Lake City Way and Pinehurst Way — an area that is very low density. All the while, it will be very close to the far more frequent 67. Unless you are trying to get from Pinehurst to Maple Leaf (and places south) with one bus, it just doesn’t make sense to take that bus anymore.

      I’ve long argued that the 67 and 73 should be combined like so: https://goo.gl/maps/Zu2QnSyhpDCPj1BZ7. That provides the connection from Pinehurst to Maple Leaf to the UW that the 73 provides, while following the far more populated route. It would avoid the wasteful button-hook (that very few follow) while still providing plenty of frequency for the folks on Roosevelt Way. The combination would save a significant amount of service hours. This latest change makes the argument for that route even strong. Much of the service along 15th would be covered by far more frequent buses.

      For example, if you are at Pagliacci’s and want to the UW, downtown or Capitol Hill, you are going to walk across the street, and catch the 522, not wait a half hour for the 73. The coverage part of the 73 is no longer needed. The connecting part should be replaced by a modified 67.

  13. Taking the 75 off NOrthgate Way/LCW is going to really screw up transit options for students at Jane Addams and Nathan Hale. Tons of students who live in the area around Northgate (one of the most diverse/high density parts of the 98125 zip code) use the 75 to get to and from school. And plenty of Running Start students use it to get to/from North Seattle College, too. With rush hour delays it is hard enough to get to school on time when you only have to take a single bus. Has anybody at Metro looked at what Orca card data shows about student ridership from Sept 2019-Feb 2020? Should be pretty easy to track as all SPS students were issued free Orca cards last September.

  14. Daniel, a little while ago didn’t another commenter suggest that if Eastsiders were uncomfortable working in Seattle, you might try hiring somebody who already lives there. Any luck?

    You and the Seattle Times Editorial Board and Nextdoor Seattle are all entitled to your opinion, especially if it’s identical. When I lost my address of so many years, too bad the hyper-developer who evicted me CANCELED me off Nextdoor too.

    So, Confession. Since my Provider’s nurse swears that even though I’ve been a GOOOOOD BOY, she’ll SEND ME TO THE VET if I stray, I’ve had to confine my last two observation trips to the cross-county quarantine chamber with my car-tabs on the plates. Espresso stops? Zero. Columbia City Co-op bathroom, ESSENTIAL but real real fast.

    Summary? To projects already underway, add a full-bore arterial- paving job that’ll save Seattle fortunes in both saved springs and greater economy because it’ll handle trains and buses when their time comes too.

    And there’s nothing stopping Seattle that a Defense Department funded recovery won’t cure in a hurry.

    And Sound Transit? Remember that, dead-opposite to both Portland, San Diego, and San Francisco, Seattle inherited virtually no existing right of way for easy transit conversion.

    While SF needed cables and rubber-tired traction for hills, its every valley was a perfect fit for rail.

    Ballard’s luck, though and Fremont’s too, that there’s sub-structure out to Shilshole that’ll handle trains, bikes, and hikers alike and side-by side. And by being solid, save motorists’ and truckers’ money too.

    And if ST truly can’t-handle, good thing new Board members can be eighteen. State legislators too. Not fair their future’s delayed, but it really is already OURS ALL OURS.

    Mark Dublin

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