Metro Connects, the long-range plan for King County Metro, is being updated. The revised plan will describe an ‘interim network’ in place of the 2025 map and extends the 2040 horizon of the current plan through 2050. Perhaps the most notable change from the existing plan is the less extensive RapidRide network. Priorities for investment shift too as service is redirected to address equity gaps with a correspondingly reduced emphasis on productivity and geographic values.
Metro’s key policy documents will be updated together. Metro Connects is the long-term vision, first adopted in 2017. The Service Guidelines define the path for nearer term adjustments in services. Both need to align with each other and with the Strategic Plan that outlines Metro’s goals and performance measures.
After the jump, we’ll delve into the new Metro Connects map, with a future post examining updates to the service guidelines.
The interim network, to be completed about the time West Seattle Link comes online in 2030-2035, includes fewer RapidRide routes than the previous plan, replacing many with frequent service routes. The 2016 plan ambitiously envisioned 13 lines for 2025, and that target has been reduced progressively so that only three lines are now funded (a fourth, RapidRide J, will be built in abbreviated form by the City of Seattle without Metro funds).
The new plan identifies 11 candidate lines for the interim network with three to five future projects expected to be completed. The K (Kirkland-Bellevue) and R (Rainier Valley) lines are first in line to be implemented, with further projects to be drawn from the pool of candidate routes. Another 7 to 11 lines may be added in the 2050 network. That’s a pace of about 1 new RapidRide route every 2-3 years, reducing by half the goals in the 2017 plan.
The new plan also envisions smaller projects such as modifications to existing lines.
Some RapidRide options from the Metro Connects map are deleted in the new draft maps. These include: 1025, Kenmore to Overlake; 1026, Kirkland-Redmond; 1075, Renton Highlands to Rainier Beach; and 1515, Kent to Federal Way. All of these are replaced frequent service on the new 2050 map.
There is a new RapidRide candidate in the interim network connecting Kent to Seattle via Tukwila. There’s also an interesting proposal on the Eastside to split RapidRide B. The Redmond-Crossroads leg would extend to Factoria & South Bellevue, and the Crossroads-Bellevue leg would continue to UW.
MC 1064, Beacon Hill to UW via Capitol Hill, formerly on the 2040 map, is promoted to the interim map.
Several other routes on the Metro Connects 2025 map appear only on the revised 2050 map, reflecting the general slowing of planned expansions and that they had already been deprioritized for early construction.
The new Metro Connects, like its predecessor, is an unfunded plan, and appears to look toward a future countywide taxing measure for most of the extended network to be viable. The Metro Connects interim network significantly extends the estimated overall need for future service. As staff highlight, “a regional solution to funding Metro Connects would help ensure more investment in routes further down the priority list”. With a 2-3 year window for prioritization plan development, work on a post-2024 network could begin as early as next year.