University Way "The Ave"
University Way NE (photo: SDOT)

In between the University of Washington and Interstate 5, there are three parallel local transit corridors: 15th Ave NE, University Way NE, and Roosevelt Way/11th Ave NE (Roosevelt for southbound, 11th for northbound). The former two are just a couple blocks apart and get a large transit volume. 15th Ave NE is decidedly more car-centric, with wider streets, and even a grade-separated pedestrian bridge (unfortunately, obviating any pedestrian crossings in that area). University Way NE, by contrast, is a much more pedestrian-oriented street, with business access right at the sidewalk rather than behind parking lots. For personal vehicles, this corridor offers little in the way of speed, with frequent pedestrian crossings, no passing lanes, and frequently-stopping buses. Aside from access to paid street parking for business access, there is little reason to drive on University Way over the faster 15th Ave NE.

Transit service is split between the corridors, with the much larger share going to 15th Ave NE. University Way gets the 45, 73, 373, and currently suspended route 71 (likely to be replaced by routes 74 and 79 with North Link). 15th Ave NE gets all trolleybus routes (43, 44, 49, 70), plus routes 48, 271, and 542. While both corridors get some combined transit frequency, there are problems with having transit run on parallel corridors that are this close together.

With some service suspended, this leaves fewer buses to go around. Having two parallel transit corridors so close means that frequency that could be combined to provide a more convenient and usable service has to be spread thin (and in this case, thinner in the corridor where passengers would be more likely to want to make a quick stop along their journey). University Way NE has just one frequent route (the 45), and it is only frequent 6 days/week. And while infrequent routes can overlay to provide combined frequency, the 73 and 372 are not coordinated with each other or the 45, and there aren’t enough routes for random timing alone to be enough to effectively boost frequency in the corridor. On 15th, the corridor of choice for cars is also the corridor of choice for buses, with better speed for through-riders, but (with the exception of the university itself) worse access to most destinations in the area, including the future Link station. Lastly, there is the issue of which street is best to wait on for the next bus. While it seems pretty obvious which street has more service, it can be a tricky decision when you see bus stop signs with many routes on both corridors, and when coming out of a business on The Ave, taking a chance may not seem worth it.

The solution? Make University Way NE a transit mall, like 3rd Ave in downtown Seattle, and consolidate service from 15th Ave NE onto The Ave. To mitigate the relative slowness of this street, make it a transit-only street from NE Pacific St. to NE 45th St., and allow buses to travel unimpeded by vehicle traffic. Since there is some on-street parking on both sides of The Ave, this space can be repurposed to build two-way bike lanes along most of the corridor, with space left over for even wider sidewalks or greenspace. Bus service would not only be closer to businesses along The Ave, but access to the U-District station would be easier and require a shorter detour than Metro is currently planning.

While the end result may be better for passengers and businesses alike, the process of getting there would require a painful (if temporary) period of construction. In addition to the reconfiguration of University Way NE, this would require new trolley wire, worsening the disruption and adding to the cost of this project. It would also have access impacts on local businesses and the new Link station. Because of this, the ideal time to make this change would have been in coordination with construction of the U-District Link Station. But given how much better this corridor could be with these changes, late is still better than never.

75 Replies to “Let’s make The Ave a transit mall”

  1. Great idea but I’d take it farther than 45th. At least 50th but with all the development happening maybe even all the way to Ravenna.

    1. I agree. You need to take it at least as far as 50th. Not only do you have a bunch of buses that continue that way, but that enables the 44 to turn from The Ave to 45th.

  2. Might be good to leave some of the parking for freight loading. Like 3rd, it will likely need non-peak access for commercial vehicles, and there may be a need (actual or political) for some 1-block access all day.

    But if there’s room for loading spaces and a 2-way bike lane (remove parking from 1 side of the street?), great!

    1. A lot of the slowness of the Ave. comes from buses getting stuck behind turning cars, who are, in turn, stopped waiting for pedestrians. If the entire street is bus-only, this problem largely goes away, since there are very few intersections where a bus route actually turns.

      1. I think the problem would largely go away if it was treated like Third, and only a handful of cars were allowed. It it was a problem, then you could ban turns unless they we were in turn lanes. Start by banning all left turns. Northbound you could take a right on 45th as well as maybe 47th and definitely 50th. Southbound you could take a right on 45th, and Campus Parkway. This would allow delivery and drop–off. This means a bit of a compromise, but one that would be a huge improvement over the current situation.

      2. Ross is correct, but also some of the problem could be mitigated by having some of the bus stops be pull-outs rather than inline. That would allow routes to ‘leapfrog’

    2. I agree. I think the key is to make it like 3rd Avenue. Not a transit mall the way the way that say, Calgary has a transit mall (no cars at any time). But more like Third Avenue. I would even be a little more liberal, and allow permitted vehicles (e. g. delivery cars).

      I don’t think it is essential that we have bike lanes. Bikes and buses don’t mix very well — things get messy. I would rather have wider sidewalks as well as loading pullouts here and there on The Ave. Add bike lanes on Brooklyn or 12th (neither of which will have buses, unless you count the one layover block on Brooklyn between 43rd and 45th). 15th also makes sense for bike lanes — I believe that is the bike master plan.

      1. No. There can be a skip-stop pattern on 3rd Avenue as it has four lanes and buses can pass buses. That can happen on the Ave as it only has one lane in each direction. The improvement in the aughts when it was rebuilt was have the buses stop in-lane; they pulled out of the lane of travel before the rebuild. Before Covid, 3rd Avenue carried about 135 trips per hour per direction. The Ave needs to carry far fewer and skip-stop is not needed.

    3. Having delivered to every business on The Ave south of 45th, most accept deliveries through the front. A few take them through the alley. The biggest variation is due to the fact that most businesses do not have an entrance in the rear.

  3. I disagree with this approach – we need to not conflate the need for busses (high speed) vs the need for pedestrians (low speed).

    Instead of turning the Ave into a transit mall, turn it into a woonef, and then put 24/7 bus lanes on 15th with TSP. That would prioritize pedestrians where appropriate (where there are many active shops/businesses), but also not constitute a service hours hit for busses.

    1. Except the buses should run where the shops are. They should run through the middle of things, making the wait for them much more pleasant.

      1. Busses should be frequent enough that the wait is not a significant part of the total journey. I would much rather wait on 15th and have the busses run 3 minutes faster than wait where there are shops but have the busses be slower.

      2. Busses should be frequent enough that the wait is not a significant part of the total journey.

        Agreed. That is the point of this proposal.

        I would much rather wait on 15th and have the busses run 3 minutes faster than wait where there are shops but have the busses be slower.

        Who said they would run 3 minutes faster? If there is no traffic, the speeds are similar (a maximum of 25 MPH if not mistaken). Buses don’t speed through the U-District, nor should they. If anything, shifting the buses to 15th would result in a delay. The buses from the north are coming from the west (Roosevelt) — the less they have to move over, the better. Likewise, a bus like the 49 can turn on the Ave, instead of going over to 15th, and then working its way back over (here is a map of the future 49: https://drive.google.com/file/d/124gozlDKzQK7qdykiOfgW8KhPwh9k90g/view).

        University Way is just better. That is why all the buses from the north go there, even the buses that start on 15th. The only reason the buses from the south use 15th is because of congestion on The Ave, and the inability to turn left there. Both of those problems go away if it becomes a transit corridor.

      3. 15th would be faster because the light cycles would be longer? Aren’t several of the intersections in the Ave stop signs? Seems like 15th would be faster N/S even with identical speed limits.

      4. 15th would be faster because the light cycles would be longer?

        I think they have the same number of traffic lights.

        Aren’t several of the intersections in the Ave stop signs?

        Yes, good point. They added a couple stop signs to the north of 50th, because they have those whaddya call … people. That’s it, they have more people.

        Again though, that minor savings of time on 15th itself is lost when you consider the extra time getting for the bus to get over there and back. Throw in the extra time spent for the vast majority of riders, and it is a worse routing. It’s kind of a pain if the bus stops at the stop sign — but it is even worse to walk up the hill and then hope that the driver stops for you as you use the crosswalk (https://goo.gl/maps/gVvxddRonguDaQQK6).

        Run the bus where the people are, unless it is extremely slow. They are on the Ave.

      5. Aren’t several of the intersections inon the Ave stop signs?

        Between 50th and Pacific (inclusive) every intersection is a light, save for 41st, where N/S traffic does not stop and E/W traffic have stop signs

      6. I don’t think putting all the buses on 15th would be much better than putting all the buses on the Ave. Unless you’re willing to do skip stops (which would mean loss of coverage), you’d still have the same problem of buses getting stuck behind other buses.

        As an example, consider the northbound bus stop at Campus Parkway, between the lights at 40th and Campus Parkway. For cars, the light timing is such that you just zoom on through. But, buses have a well-used bus stop in between the two lights. So, when the first light turns green, the second light is also green, but by the time the bus pulls up to the stop, opens the doors, lets people on and off, closes the doors and starts moving, the second light turns red and bus has to wait again. Even worse, when the bus is waiting for the second light, it’s blocking the zone so that the bus behind it has to wait in back of the first light before it can open its doors.

        Putting it all together, I’ve experienced occasions where my bus is number 3 or 4 in line for the Campus Parkway bus stop and had to wait as long as 5-10 minutes before the driver could open the door to let one person off the bus. If all U-district bus route were consolidated on 15th, the problem would be worse.

        Ultimately, I think the debate should not be about the Ave. vs. 15th. The only solution that keeps buses moving is to use both and try as much as possible to have routes going to common destinations serve the same street. For example, maybe have buses that end in the U-district serve 15th and buses that continue onward at least as far as 65th serve the Ave. That’s basically what the current system does, except for the 67 taking Roosevelt.

      7. The only solution that keeps buses moving is to use both [15th and The Ave.] and try as much as possible to have routes going to common destinations serve the same street.

        Using that logic, we should start moving buses off of Third as quickly as possible. As I’ve explained, the bunching there is much worse.

        The problem is that almost off all them have destinations in common. After the Northgate Link restructure, here are the buses that will be going between Campus Parkway and 45th:

        15th: 44, 48, 49, 70, 372, 271, 542
        Ave: 26, 45, 73, 74
        Roosevelt: 67

        Here are the buses that will go between Husky Stadium and 45th:

        15th: 44, 48, 271, 542
        Ave: 45, 73, 74

        Worth noting is that *all* of these buses share the same Pacific Street, including this bus stop: https://goo.gl/maps/2c92RkBQhGEazmLV6. Not only that, but right now the 65 and 255 (AKA 67) also use that stop. If there is any crowding, it is on Pacific. But its not that bad. The biggest problem by far is the lack of bus lanes, not the number of buses. With a transit mall comes proof-of-payment as well.

        But with half the buses on one street, and half on the other, it reduces the number of truncations. The 542 will probably be truncated anyway. But truncating the 271 would dramatically reduce the buses from 45th to Husky Stadium that run on one street. Move the remaining buses over to The Ave and the problem is solved.

        So that would mean the 44, 45, 48, 73, 74 all on the Ave, between 45th and Husky Stadium. That is about 20 buses an hour — enough to provide good frequency along the corridor, while coming nowhere near the crowding that exists now next to the hospital, let alone that found on Third Avenue. It has good service, with room to grow (additional buses could come from the north).

        At that point, I really don’t care where the 49, 70 or 372 go. They spend a very short time in the U-District, and if the other buses are providing adequate frequency on one corridor (The Ave), they can use 15th. As it is, the 70 will transition to different streets as it becomes RapidRide.

        The bulk of the buses share the same corridor anyway, right now (Pacific). The only difference is that they would also share The Ave, and it would be a transit corridor.

    2. I agree with Stephen. A better comparison for the Ave is Pike street. Pike is an awesome street, but no bus stops in Cap Hill. That allows Pike to be a festival street. I think the Ave would be better as a woonef and fully closed to vehicles at times, including buses, rather than a transit mall.

      15th is a bit unpleasant, but the UW is doing a better job opening the campus to the street rather than walling it off, such as with the new Burke museum. I think I’d rather have dedicated bus lanes on 15th than 3rd Ave treatment on the Ave.

      1. A better comparison for the Ave is Pike street. Pike is an awesome street, but no bus stops in Cap Hill.

        Pike doesn’t have buses on it in Capitol Hill because Pine has buses on it. Pine is just as urban, and “festive” as Pike. It is not necessary to turn an urban street into a mall. Buses can (and should) run down the center of the area, which in this case is The Ave.

        15th is a bit unpleasant

        Yes, it is essentially a car sewer: https://goo.gl/maps/ZUK3BWAVfWMfcphf9. I agree, things have gotten a bit better, but you have no commercial establishments to the east, and largely parking lots to the west.

        The campus is to the east, but all the commercial establishments are to the west. Not just on the Ave itself, but increasingly on Brooklyn. As you go further north, it is clear that way more people are on The Ave than on 15th, as the campus ends at 45th.

        Then of course you have the Link light rail station, which is to the west. If you are towards the bottom of the Ave at Campus Parkway and want to get to Link, you would have to walk to 15th, then walk back (basically three blocks instead of one). The same is true if you are further north. All of this AND the bus has to travel further out of its way.

        Put it this way — imagine if both streets were transit malls. Which way would the buses go? It isn’t even close. They would go on The Ave.

  4. Sorry if I missed it, but under your idea, would The Ave stay 2 lane? If so, I don’t think it could handle all the routes that use 15th, especially during peak hours. I like the transit mall idea, but I think you might have to keep some routes on 15th.

    1. That’s essentially what I was going to say. Consolidating every U-district bus on the Ave. is a recipe for buses getting stuck behind other buses, with no room to pass. I think to keep buses moving, you have to split them up.

      As to the “combined frequency” argument, that only really matters if you’re just traveling a few blocks north/south. Going any further than 65th St. to the north or UW Med Center to the south, you have to take the bus that’s going where you want to go, not whichever bus happens to come by first. Once the U-district Link Station opens, there will be a lot fewer reasons for people to ride a U-district bus just to go a few blocks.

      1. Buses can pass buses on a two lane street. With a proof of payment system and level boarding (which should eventually happen) you aren’t going to have too much of that anyway. As far as crowding goes, this goes away after Northgate Link. Once Northgate Link gets here, the express buses from Snohomish County stop going to the U-District (they truncate at Northgate). Those are the only buses that have a strong peak orientation for the area. The 44 goes from every 10 minutes to every 12. The 271 goes from 12 to 15. The 45, 49, 65, 67 and 70 all run the same during rush hour as midday.

        Once the U-district Link Station opens, there will be a lot fewer reasons for people to ride a U-district bus just to go a few blocks.

        I was wondering when someone would bring up this argument. Sorry, no. If Link had urban stop spacing, then definitely. If Link has stations at Campus Parkway and 55th, then you would be right. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. If anything, Link increases the likelihood that someone will use a bus to go a few blocks.

        Imagine you are trying to get from Alder Hall up to Northgate. You can walk up to the station, but it takes 10 minutes (https://goo.gl/maps/jivVeqhtBT96GyM5A). Catching a bus would save you at least 5 minutes. What if you are trying to get from 42nd up to Ravenna. You could walk, but it is a long walk (https://goo.gl/maps/F1GdjkXPPPzB65GR6). Taking Link would be silly. How about if you are at 50th, and want to get down to the north end of the hospital (https://goo.gl/maps/5QGZZk5oihMGwJnL8). Same story. The only way you can make those trips quickly is to call a cab, bike or take a bus.

        The problem is, right now the buses are scattered around. In all these cases — which are quite common — you have to randomly pick a street, and hope for the best.

        The Third Avenue transit mall — which does have a proof of payment system — works extremely well because of this. Thousands of people can take the bus from one end of downtown to the other. It is slower than taking Link, but a lot more frequent, and it doesn’t involve the long trip up and down to the platform. Link is designed for longer trips — you still need buses for shorter trips.

        Otherwise, we are simply accepting a substandard system. I realize a five or ten minute delay doesn’t sound that much, but we are spending billions to eliminate that for a relative handful of riders in West Seattle. The least we can do is improve the transit situation for the second biggest urban center in Washington.

      2. What I meant was – the forced transfer to a bus for people already on Link will go away. People headed from downtown to 42nd and the Ave. will today have to switch to a bus for the last few blocks. In a year, they’ll just stay on the train one more stop and walk.

        Sure, there will still be people riding the bus from 42nd to Ravenna, but the primary path from the center of the U district to downtown/Capitol Hill will no longer involve a bus.

      3. but the primary path from the center of the U district to downtown/Capitol Hill will no longer involve a bus.

        OK, yeah, that makes sense. But I don’t think it changes anything. My guess is there aren’t that many people that ride the bus from the U-District to the UW Station. It makes sense to do that if you are headed to Capitol Hill, but even then, a lot of riders just take the 49. For trips to downtown you have the 49 and 70. My guess it is one of those “first bus that comes” type of things. If the 271, 44 or 48 gets here first, you take the bus to the UW station. If the 49 or 70 gets here, you take that.

        Anyway, my point is that short trips to the UW Station are greatly outnumbered by short trips within the greater U-District (which stretches from the Montlake Bridge to around Ravenna).

    2. However, many of the busses on 15th are expresses that will be truncated at Northgate later this year? Those express routes do often get stuck behind each other even on car sewer 15th (well, pre-pandemic that is).

      1. Yes, exactly. The express routes from Snohomish County (the 800 series buses) will be truncated at Northgate. I would expect ST buses like the 540, 541, 542, 555 and 556 to be truncated at Husky Stadium.

        In general, the U-District is one of the least peak oriented areas around. Even if you do have a bus like the 277 that goes to the U-District, it can be sent to 15th. This is no different than having the 400 series Snohomish County buses go on 2nd and 4th downtown, instead of the transit mall (3rd). The point is to have the all-day buses (which will be almost all of them) all going on the same street.

  5. I think it’s safe to say that the U-District Station opening in a few months will affect transit riders and where they choose to walk. I expect that there may be a slight uptick in traffic as nearby expensive neighborhood residents will look to other household members or ride-hailing apps to get to the station. I expect more riders to east-west buses more than north-south buses. I expect bicyclists will like getting off at U-District station that aren’t around this area today.

    With this significant generational change happening, the entire street system deserves a new broad look at circulation once students return and we witness these changes. It’s good to have concepts like this transit street to consider, but let’s look to supporting a systemic circulation plan rather than do one project at a time.

  6. This is a sound concept but needs to be scaled back in the near term. Note fiscal crisis. A level priority similar to 3rd Avenue may be optimal. University Way NE has been the transit focus of the U District for 120 years: streetcars, electric trolley bus, diesel bus, dual mode bus, hybrid bus. Between 1940 and 1963, ETB routes 7 and 8 served the Ave; Route 8 served the NE 55th Street corridor that had been streetcar; Route 7 had several tails; together, the waits were very short; it was before I-5. It would have been best to consider several years before the Link opening. In the near term, electric trolleybus routes have to stay under the overhead on 15th Avenue NE. More routes and trips could be assigned to the Ave. Note this was the plan in the early aughts when SDOT completely rebuilt the Ave with new utilities, bus bulbs, half as many bus stops, and wider sidewalks. Seattle, Metro, the UW, and the business groups could discuss. Brooklyn Avenue NE appears to be a good street for through bike priority.

    1. I agree, funding is a big issue (yet another reason why HB 1304 should include funding for all transit, including bus lanes and moving wire). Moving wire is the big expensive, but all of them add up. This should have been done as part of the Northgate restructure (as the author mentioned). They will move wire as well as switch around some bus stops. This proposal would be more expensive than what they are planning, but not that much more. It would require more cooperation with SDOT, and the agency is just not that forward thinking. They are still trying to deal with the incompetence and scandalous behavior of Kubly, and have been largely trying to just put out fires.

      Personally I would start with adding bus lanes on 45th. This wouldn’t require moving the bus routes, which would make it relatively cheap. Basically some studies, and a lot of paint.

      Eventually I would look to add the same paint on the Ave, even if it only has a few buses on it. Then I would move over the other ones, starting with the buses that aren’t trolleys (48, 271). Eventually the trolleys move over.

      Personally I would also move over the 67 unless and until we got to the point that there is frequent transit along University Way south of Ravenna. That is more controversial — it means a longer walk for some — but the same basic idea. By combining routes, you achiever better frequency, even if you lose a bit of coverage. Until you have buses running on The Ave every 5 minutes, I wouldn’t bother running a bus on the Roosevelt couplet between Ravenna and Campus Parkway.

  7. I know that Metro (pre King County) did a study back in the late 80’s on this. I have the book somewhere.

  8. One big difference between 3rd Ave. and the U district is that 3rd Ave. buses use a skip stop pattern, whereas I district buses all serve every stop.

    When every bus serves every stop, buses can’t pass each other without risking driving by waiting passengers. That’s why you almost never see buses pass each other at bus stops outside of 3rd Ave.

    A lot of routes begin and end in the U district and buses at the tail end of the route nearly always move faster than buses at the lead end, since exiting the bus takes less time than entering it. You don’t your 542 to be stuck behind a crowd of people boarding the 45.

    1. Third Avenue has way more buses, and is longer. The “skipping” you mentioned is only the result of having so many buses. But for individual buses, it is basically the same dynamic. Consider just one stop: 3rd and Seneca: https://goo.gl/maps/5sjX7cgfXYGZFW12A. All of those buses serve that stop. All the time. They never skip it. That bus stop has to handle the load for all those buses — what they do before or after doesn’t matter. They still platoon from stop to stop if there are too many buses at that stop.

      There are 14 bus routes at that stop. This includes many of our busiest buses (C, D, E, 7, 70, etc.). Many of these buses are very peak oriented (C and E especially). Yet it works.

      In contrast, there aren’t that many bus routes serving the U-District, and very few extra peak buses. Send all the U-District buses to the same stop, and it is nowhere near as busy as that bus stop on Third.

      The more stops that are shared, the greater the chance of bus bunching. The buses on Third don’t stop that much on Third (the result of wide stop spacing that is helped along with the platooning you mentioned). But there aren’t that many bus stops on the Ave, either. The overlap is relatively short — between 45th and Campus Parkway. After that, some buses (like the 372) just end, while the 44 turns.

      Creating a transit mall speeds up the buses, and the risk of bus bunching is minimal. It is quite likely that buses would run faster overall, even if there is a bit of bus bunching. Frequency is more important than speed, and in this case, it would likely be both faster and a lot more frequent. You gain a lot more than you lose.

      You don’t your 542 to be stuck behind a crowd of people boarding the 45.

      A great example. Assuming the 542 continues to go to the U-District, it would be fine to send it up 15th, like the 271. I am not convinced that would be faster, but I also don’t have an issue with it (and it may make layovers easier).

      It is the other direction where things matter. By moving buses like this to the Ave, they might experience bus bunching. But in exchange, you increase frequency along that corridor. You gain way more than you lose.

      It is also a great example of how savings can be had. If there are enough buses running from the U-District towards the stadium *along the same corridor* then maybe the 542 can just end in the triangle.

    2. The extra frequency from consolidating routes only matters if you are traveling entirely within an area of about a mile or so long, where the bus starts to compete with walking. For anybody coming from the central district, eastlake, Green Lake, Redmond, or anywhere else, the combined frequency of a bunch of different routes along a one mile stretch doesn’t matter. You only care about the frequency of *your* route.

      As to bus bunching, I’ve seen what it’s like first-hand. Before COVID, once a week after work, I’d walk into one of the restaurants at the corner of 43rd and the Ave and order dinner, in clear view of the bus stop. Sometimes, there would be two or three buses lined up. Occasionally, the bus that was #3 in line when I walked in would still be there when my food is ready. That’s bus bunching for you.

      Even if the entire street were bus only, allowing the oncoming lane to be used for passing, it still wouldn’t work. The bus still has to wait its turn for the bus stop or risk leaving passengers behind.

      1. No – third works great because most people are either starting/ending their trip downtown, or looking to transfer downtown. I think asdf2’s point is there will be a higher share of people simply passing through the U-District than there are people simply passing through downtown.

      2. 3rd works because it allows buses to pass each other. This is possible only because it has both passing lanes and a skip stop pattern.

        Without skip-stop, it doesn’t work. A route X bus can’t pass a route Y bus stopped at a stop that route X also serves without risking driving by passengers waiting to get on.

  9. Is the only reason there are currently routes on 15th rather than University Way the lack of trolley wire on University? Or is there trolley wire on the Ave also?

    1. There’s no wire on the Ave. That seems to be the reason why the 49 and 70 go all the way to 15th.

      1. There was trolleybus overhead on the Ave between 1940 and 1963. There were streetcars on the Ave before that. When Route 70 was electrified in the late 1990s, Metro chose not to wire the Ave.

    2. Er, there is a block of wire north of 50th for buses to turn around, but not between Campus Parkway and 50th.

    3. That is the main reason the trolleys go there, but there is also the layover/turnaround issue. This will be much better as buses are able to turn left on 43rd, layover by the station, and then loop around to start their route.

    4. Third Ave. in downtown Seattle is a “transit mall” because buses have to ride the surface streets. 3rd Ave. works as a bus corridor but makes the pedestrian and bike experience on 3rd Ave. very unpleasant. Basically 3rd Ave. was sacrificed to create a transit mall, although the better term is corridor. Ideally buses would use a transit tunnel through a retail dense area but the cost is often prohibitive.

      You can make the Ave. a bus corridor, but the bike and pedestrian experience will suffer, and the retail on the Ave. isn’t doing well to begin with. Or you could run the buses on adjacent streets with less retail density and make The Ave. a pedestrian and retail mall like U Village, which I think would attract more patrons to the Ave. and make it more attractive to bike and walk.

  10. The Ave is too narrow for the level of post-pandemic bus service. Buses will bunch behind on another, and will be delayed by heavy ped traffic. The Ave should be pedestrianized and buses should run on Brooklyn and 15th, per the community-backed U District Mobility Plan. https://www.udistrictmobility.com/

    1. I wasn’t aware of this plan, but it represents the more comprehensive thinking that I think is needed!

      I also would generally promote pedestrians to the top priority as this plan does. With Link trains every 4-5 minutes after 2023, anyone going further than two miles will likely head there unless they are going east or west.

      There are plenty of examples where rail stations are already in major commercial districts at major campuses. Most are focused on pedestrians rather than transit. That’s because transit is usually viewed as merely the way to get to the district, but walking is what makes the district vibrant!

    2. No thanks. ST did not build Brooklyn Avenue NE for bus transit. Per RossB, transit and pedestrian traffic should be on the same street: University Way NE. Brooklyn Avenue NE looks well suited to become a through street for bicyclists.

    3. Buses can pass buses by moving into the other lane. As long as it is a two lane road, you can pass. Not that it is likely. It isn’t like when a 7 encounters another 7, and just skips the stop. In this case, there will lots of different buses all serving the same stop. The bus can’t skip any stops — it doesn’t matter if they can.

      Bus bunching can be minimized with off board payment and level boarding. This is more likely to occur on a transit mall. So far as I know, there is only one place in the state where multiple buses have off board payment: Third Avenue.

      Bus bunching isn’t likely. You can avoid it altogether by splitting the routes, and sending them on different streets — which is essentially what you are recommending. You avoid bus bunching, but you lose frequency. That is much worse.

      You could send all the buses on Brooklyn, but as Eddie wrote, that would require a lot more work by the city, and mean a lot of extra walking for the vast majority of riders. You want the buses where there is “heavy ped traffic”. That means less walking, which in turn leads to higher ridership.

    1. It is a de facto transit center since the 1990 DSTT restructure, but most of those transfers will move to U-District Station.

  11. Not a huge fan of this idea. 15th works just fine as a transit street (and is better suited to faster vehicle movement), and I’d rather the focus be on pedestrians and bikes on the Ave. The scale just doesn’t feel right to be crammed with buses all day. A woonerf or otherwise pedestrianized street would be more suitable.

    1. 15th works just fine as a transit street.

      No, it doesn’t. There is not a single bus on 15th, between 45th and Cowen. The reason is obvious: there is very little there. Everyone is at the Ave. You want the buses where the people are. You don’t want everyone to have to walk extra just to get to a bus. Many of them won’t — they will just drive.

      It is easier to access from the north. It is closer to Link. That is why the 45 will continue to run down the Ave, after the restructure. It is why other buses should run on the Ave, if the money can be found to do it.

      People seem to forget that we used to have lots of buses on the Ave. It was as vibrant as today. Getting rid of the buses wouldn’t make the street better, it would just make it harder to get to. There are plenty of busy, narrow streets with buses on them. The photo for the Wikipedia entry for articulated buses shows one that is narrower than the Ave: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Articulated_bus#/media/File:Brighton_&_Hove_bus_(111).jpg.

      1. 15th works just fine as a transit street.

        No, it doesn’t. There is not a single bus on 15th, between 45th and Cowen. The reason is obvious: there is very little there. Everyone is at the Ave. You want the buses where the people are. You don’t want everyone to have to walk extra just to get to a bus. Many of them won’t — they will just drive.

        RossB, this actually isn’t quite true. The 45/73 (and 71, if it were running) run on 15th every Saturday when the U-District farmers market blocks the Ave between 50th and 55th (the actual northern terminus varies depending on number of vendors). This is actually a big reason why I would prefer to see buses run either entirely on 15th, or a mix of 15th and Brooklyn. The actual timing of the reroute is hard to guess: technically it’s supposed to be all day, but I’ve definitely seen buses running on the Ave Saturday evening when they should be on 15th, and I’ve both been skipped and seen other people at stops skipped by bus drivers that don’t understand how the reroute is supposed to work.

        Rather than having a weekly re-route for a dense transit corridor that disrupts legibility, why not move the routes to nearby suitable streets and just do away with the re-routes all together?

        As for cyclists, I hardly ever take the Ave because I can bike faster than buses, even up-hill. I’ll either take 11th/12th if I’m going up-hill, or Roosevelt/15th if I’m going downhill, depending on where I’m going.

        And as for walking? I actually found the Ave unpleasant to walk on even pre-pandemic because I got sick of dodging clumps of people on the narrow, obstacle-ridden sidewalks and would walk on 12th/Brooklyn/15th anyways. If it were a woonerf, I might actually find it pleasant to walk on the Ave .

      2. I’m sorry, but walking one block to catch a bus is not a huge inconvenience for, well, anyone. The ave is a slow-moving shopping and dining street. Having fast-moving buses running 24-7 would kill the vibe, while a pedestrianized street would improve it. 3rd avenue is the last street I would want to emulate for the u-district.

      3. The 45 is on the Ave to replace the busy 71/72/73X. In Metro’s plan the 73 was part-time coverage route and the 71 didn’t exist. But public clamor got the 71 and 73 repeatedly increased and the 45 wasn’t affected. The 2019 number of buses was approximately the same as the pre-2016 number.

        Some of the very narrow streets arguably shouldn’t have buses, like the 26 on Latona, Thackerey, and Wallingford Ave, and the very north end of the 10.

      4. Yes, I’m aware that the buses get re-routed on Saturday, and during other events. My point is that it sucks. It is a degradation.

        Think about it from the perspective of Metro. You have to deal with the situation. Every time you come out with a schedule, you have to put in that little asterisk (*except on Saturdays, or the U-District Street Fair). Every year you have to deal with the phone calls (“Where’s my bus — how come it ain’t hear?!!”). Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just run it on 15th. Problem solved.

        So why don’t they? Because it sucks. It is a degradation. It isn’t where people are, nor is it where people want to be. Nor is it much faster. As I’ve explained, it is probably slower. It isn’t about maximum speed, it is about intersections.

        I’m sorry, but walking one block to catch a bus is not a huge inconvenience

        Nor is running a bus down the street with the most people. The U-District is *the destination* for the vast majority of people north of 45th, and the main destination for plenty of people south of there. Don’t you think these people deserve bus service that is fast, frequent, *and* convenient?

        You are also ignoring the fact that we know, for a fact, that there is a limit to how far people will walk (https://humantransit.org/2010/11/san-francisco-a-rational-stop-spacing-plan.html). If you move the route one block away, for some it means the difference between 3 blocks and 4. This increases the likelihood that they will add more stops to compensate. Now you’ve made things worse. The vast majority of people have to walk further, and you’ve slowed down the bus. Or you’ve kept the stop spacing the same, but lost riders. These are facts. This is science. Move the stops further away from where most of the riders are, and you lose riders.

        The idea of closing off The Ave to all vehicles is a fantasy. It isn’t going to happen. There will be the occasional truck, and the occasional car. The only question is whether there will be buses, or whether buses will be stuck on a side street that is probably slower, and undoubtedly will have a lot fewer people.

        Sorry to break it to you, but 15th will never be a transit mall. Never. It is four lanes, and the main way through the area. At best we get BAT lanes, which means those buses slow down at every intersection, to wait for those cars that are turning right. Which is just one more reason why Metro doesn’t do that. They don’t run buses on 15th between Ravenna and 45th unless The Ave is blocked. The speed advantage is minimal, if not non-existent. They could ask for BAT lanes, but doing so would be stupid, when what they really want it is for the primary corridor — the corridor with so many people on it — to have faster bus service.

        Nobody does what you are suggesting. Nobody detours away from the main corridor, because there are too many people on it. Sometimes they detour to it — spending extra time to serve it. Sometimes they just keep going on the faster route that is nearby. But nobody makes a detour away from the main part of town just because there are lots of people there. That’s nuts.

      5. Having fast-moving buses running 24-7 would kill the vibe

        Holy shit, man, are you new to town? This was one of the busiest transit corridors in the state until about five years ago. Having lots of buses didn’t kill the vibe, it was a huge part of it.

        While you are it, go ahead and argue that used record stores will kill the vibe on The Ave as well. Jeesh.

      6. Maybe KCM splits the routes between the Ave and 15th because it feels there are too many buses for one street during weekday peak, and its only on weekends that it feels comfortable consolidating the routes into a single street?

        Also, Ross I feel you are conflating “many people” = lots of destinations for transit riders with “many people” = a highly pedestrian environment. The Ave caters towards the immediate neighborhood, so most of those visible pedestrians likely arrived on foot, not on bus. People riding the bus are far more likely to be heading to UW, the hospital, the (future) office towers, or simply passing through. The Ave has vibrant street life but it’s also a low rise strip nourished by higher density usage (housing, the UW) on adjacent blocks. We’d need a rider survey to confirm, but I’m guessing the vast majority of riders on the various routes are not heading to a destination that is immediately on the Ave. The primary times people head to the Ave itself – mealtime or drinking time – are the same times when the Ave would benefit from being a festival street, allowing eating & drinking to occur in the street itself.

      7. Maybe KCM splits the routes between the Ave and 15th because it feels there are too many buses for one street during weekday peak, and its only on weekends that it feels comfortable consolidating the routes into a single street?

        I think you mean “split”, not “splits” (as in past tense). Back when there were lots of buses on the Ave (all headed to downtown, via the freeway) I’m sure that is part of the reason they decided to send the 800 series buses (from Snohomish County) to 15th. The bigger is layover space (more about that below).

        Creating a transit mall does not mean that every single bus in the area has to use it. There are a number of buses that don’t use Third. The pattern you are describing makes sense, and explains why the 400 series buses from Snohomish County use 2nd and 4th (not the transit mall).

        Pretty much all peak-oriented service will disappear when Northgate Link opens, but the few peak-oriented express buses that remain (e. g. 277) could continue using 15th.

        In talking to Metro officials, I’ve never heard them speak of a desire to keep the buses separated. I’ve only heard these two explanations as to why the buses run on 15th:

        1) It is expensive to move the wire (43, 44, 49, 70).

        2) Layover issues. There is a lot of layover space on Memorial Parkway, which is used by the 48, 271, 277 and the Community Transit buses. The reason they can’t use the Ave is because you can’t turn left onto the Ave. (https://goo.gl/maps/eDF4u2iVhV2Qj8AG8). I don’t see layover space as an issue if you create a transit mall. The handful of peak-hour express buses that go through the U-District (e. g. 277) could continue to use 15th and layover at Memorial Parkway. The 48 is actually going to use a different layover farther north, at 50th. This will be similar (if not the exact same spot) as the 70. These buses layover on Brooklyn: https://goo.gl/maps/NeJ34449CCNsziYN6. Unlike laying over to the northeast, laying over to the northwest is easy, and would be even easier if The Ave becomes a transit mall. The northbound bus (e. g. the 48) turns left on 50th, then takes three rights. Even if it turns left on 45th, with only buses on the street, it becomes much easier. If you look at the weekday layover pattern of the 70 (https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/schedules-maps/route/070.aspx#route-map) using University Way would be a big improvement. You avoid the extra left and right turn when heading south. They also added layover space by the station.

        So basically the reasons for running non-peak buses on 15th would go away if they were willing to spend the money (moving wire as well as making other changes).

      8. feel you are conflating “many people” = lots of destinations for transit riders with “many people” = a highly pedestrian environment.

        There is a very strong correspondence. There are lots of people (myself included) who go to The Ave for dinner, or to get a beer. There are movies and plays there as well. You also have lots of people employed there — it is fairly high in retail employment. For example, this is my favorite Thai restaurant: https://goo.gl/maps/6HKQeTBKqtSvwPWH6. It is small, sandwiched between the Vietnamese restaurant on the right, and the entrance to the apartments above on the left. If you go in there (after the pandemic) you will see lots of people working there. Its not like a mall — employment per square foot is quite high.

        Oh, and I think I mentioned the apartments above. This is especially true as you get further north (https://goo.gl/maps/i9LZV9WeyqHmjeRh8, https://goo.gl/maps/S4PxeS2eoejzvaPaA). There is decent density on The Ave of all sorts.

        Then you have the fact that The Ave is just more centrally located. The only skyscrapers in the area are on Brooklyn (the old Safeco Tower and the new one: https://www.seattleinprogress.com/project/3028621/page/1). I don’t want to downplay any of the growth to the east, but there is more to the west. Fraternity Row isn’t going to change. But the areas to west are changing as we speak (https://www.seattleinprogress.com/project/3031554/page/1). This is all about zoning (https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/OPCD/OngoingInitiatives/UDistrictUrbanDesign/ApprovedUDistrictRezoneMap.pdf). You could argue, based on that map, that the buses should go even farther west (e. g. Brooklyn). As folks have explained — that just isn’t going to happen. And again, that puts it farther away from the main destination in the area (other than the campus), which is the Ave.

        Consider this scenario: You have just finished watching a movie at the Varsity. As you exit the theater, one of your friends asks “should we call an Uber?”

        As you get ready to jaywalk across the street, you notice a bus going north. Its not your bus, but you see the bus stop up the street. As you get to the corner, you can see the kiosk, and it says your bus will be here in 5 minutes. You finally answer “Nah, lets just take the bus — it will be here in 5 minutes”.

        In this way, having transit on the active street promotes transit. It sends a clear message — we are better than you, Uber. We go where the people are — you, in contrast, are banned. You are on that other street — the one with five lanes of traffic, that no one wants to be on. Transit serves the cozy street — the one you feel more comfortable on late at night, simply because it has more people.

  12. Let’s wait until Northgate Link is running and we can see how travel patterns change. I found it hard to visualize the post U-Link situation before it happened, and some of my assumptions turned out to be wrong. There’s not enough time to get it done before or concurrent to Northgate Link anyway.

    I like the idea of a bus-only, pedestrianized, or woonerf Ave, but it was made more like that in 2000. Before that there were more bus stops, they stopped in pullouts rather than in-line, and the sidewalks were less beautiful. I lived at 56th and took a bus to Campus Parkway for the Harborview shuttle, or to the lower Ave for shopping, or to downtown. It was excruciatingly slow getting from 56th to Campus Parkway, but now it’s faster and I’d say good. Making it bus-only or something would be nice but is not essential or urgent.

    15th has more throughput and is a good place for the peak hour and Eastside routes. The biggest problem is the 49 and 70 wrapping around on 15th because that’s where the wire is. So I wound add wire on the Ave and move those routes to it, but we don’t need to move all routes to the Ave. Those routes will be restructured anyway, the 49 with Northgate Link and the 70 replaced by RapidRide.

    Right now the differentiation for routes from UW Station is, those that go through to 65th are on the Ave, and those that terminate at 45th are on 15th. The Ave has frequent enough service: before the pandemic the 45 had 6/hour, the 71 2/hour, and the 73 2/hour. There would be some benefit to moving the 48, 255, and 271 to the Ave but it’s not essential or urgent.

    If you propose making the Ave bus-only or pedestrian-only or a woonerf, there would be howls from local businesses saying much of their clientele would disappear if they can’t drive in front of the storefront and see it and/or park on the street. I don’t think a lot of these claims but on the Ave it probably does generate some business. The Ave is doing OK as is so I don’t see a major need to restructure it.

    Then there’s the issue of what kind of atmosphere it would become, and what kinds of businesses we want on it and how to get there. Converting it to bus-only may bring more middle-class people or it may become more of a homeless hangout. The retail has been a wide and vibrant variety in the past but is at a weak point now, with the variety shrinking and more chain stores appearing. Changing the street won’t necessarily improve this; it probably requires a separate campaign. And the Ave is not downtown where a huge number of shoppers would come. More would come only if there are more businesses they want to go to and that aren’t available elsewhere. It’s not clear that the current lot owners are able to or know how to do that.

    All in all, I’d rather wait until Northgate Link opens and we see how travel patterns change, and then think about what if anything to do further with the Ave.

    1. Yes, there is no way this happens before the Northgate Link restructure. So basically the starting point is this (more or less): https://pdfhost.io/v/CsvEzePNX_Phase_3_Network_Map.pdf. I wish they had a closeup of the U-District, but here are the routes that go through the U-District and the streets they use:

      15th: 44, 48, 49, 70, 372, 271**, 542***
      Ave: 26*, 45, 73*, 74*
      Roosevelt: 67, 31/32

      * Infrequent.
      ** The 271 is not part of the plan. I can only assume it will keep current routing.
      *** Likewise, I have no idea if ST plans on changing the route, or keeping it the same.

      The 31/32 is fine — it is an east/west bus, and it can go on any street. But overall, for mobility *within* the region, it is a mess. It gets complicated, so maybe it is best to think about it in sections:

      65th to 45th — This is pretty much on the Ave, as it should be. The exception is the 67, which uses the Roosevelt couplet.

      45th to Campus Parkway — The heart of the U-District, and where it is most messy. There are some buses running on The Ave, and buses running on 15th. This is both wasteful, and bad for riders at the same time. You lose frequency, yet feel the need to extend both, because the transfer isn’t painless (because you’ve lost frequency).

      Campus Parkway to Husky Stadium — Just as messy. The 45, 73 and 74 run on the Ave, while the 44, 48, 271, 372 (and maybe 542) run on 15th. Like the heart of the U-District, the best option is the Stroad that is 15th, but even that suffers from the split.

      As I see it, the first step is to make the Ave a transit mall. The current plans are spartan. There are more than enough buses coming from the north to justify several of them going to and through the U-District. The area between 45th and 65th should have fast, frequent transit along one corridor, and the only logical corridor is University Way. Then it is a matter of moving over the other buses, in stages. I would do it this way:

      Stage one: 48, 271 (and 542, if ST even runs it to the U-District). This doesn’t require moving wire. It means that you essentially shift the main corridor from 15th to the Ave. It also means that from 45th to Husky Stadium, you have better frequency on this corridor than you have now on either. This is a huge improvement, even though the buses under wire (44, 49, 70) keep going on 15th.

      Stage two: Move the wire. It really doesn’t matter that much with the 49 and 70 (especially since the 70 will be replaced with RapidRide J) but it matters a lot for the 44. Having the 44 follow the 45 route from 45th to Husky Stadium means that one more bus helps support that critical corridor.

      Alternate Stage two: Just run more buses from the north. When the 522 goes away, and is replaced by STride, there will still be the need for a bus on Lake City Way, from at least 145th to 65th. That bus should continue to the U-District, at least as far as Campus Parkway. If the RapidRide J is extended to 70th, then it would make sense to have a bus on Roosevelt cut over on Ravenna to University Way, similar to (or even replacing) the 67. With all those buses on The Ave, it would probably be OK to have the 44 and 49 continue to use 15th. At that point I could also see the 44 going over to Children’s Hospital, while the 31/32 just end at the U-District Station.

      When it comes to truncations, stage one is awkward. Is the 45, 48, 73 and 74 adequate for 45th to Husky Stadium? Maybe. My guess is the 542 gets truncated regardless, and I would flip a coin for the 372. As more buses come from the north (either the 44, or a bus from Lake City) the case for truncation the 271 by Husky Stadium becomes stronger. So much depends on overall service, and that depends on a whole host of political issues, at the local, state, and federal level.

      No matter what though, the argument for running a lot of buses on The Ave is strong, as is the case for making it a transit mall.

  13. I tend to lean more towards pedestrian/bike mall with commercial vehicle access than transit mall for The Ave.

    For one thing, many people will be walking between the U District station and campus, starting this Fall. And with the express busses on 15th being truncated to Northgate, there is plenty of capacity to move busses from The Ave to 15th. The main bus traffic will presumably be people coming in from the west, but probably most of those guys are actually wanting to go to the campus vs. the Ave. Finally, there is no good south-north bike route along the western side of campus.

  14. I agree with Brandon. As someone who works in downtown Seattle 3rd Ave. is by far the worst pedestrian/retail experience of all the avenues downtown, and why bicyclists avoid 3rd Ave. It is also why there is a transit tunnel, and may be a second: to segregate pedestrians and transit. If car traffic is already bad on the Ave. because of stops and pedestrian crossings why place buses on the Ave.?

    Create a pedestrian mall, although businesses are going to demand offsite car parking to make up for lost street parking. Same reason 45th doesn’t have dedicated bus lanes. I would end the pedestrian mall at 45th because of the amount of traffic at that intersection and the need for east-west traffic. (Think of the old street fair). Whether it would upgrade the retail/restaurant scene on the Ave. is unknown. University Village mall is basically a pedestrian mall with higher end retail and restaurants, and that is the Ave.’s stiff competition.

    In the end the UW would have to sign off on the plan. If more traffic was routed to 15th the UW could object, and that would end the proposal.

  15. Another wrinkle in this discussion I haven’t heard anyone mention so far is the farmers market. Having buses take a different street on Saturdays vs. Sunday-Friday is not good for legibility, especially when the reroute for the farmers market remains in effect hours after the farmers market is closed and the street reopened. The weekly jog along 50th to cut between 15th and the Ave. also means more left turns and more running time.

    If the Ave. were pedestrianized, the problem goes away. So, maybe you put half the buses on 15th and routes that end in the U-district simply take either Brooklyn or Roosevelt/11th.

    I think the “put the buses where the people are” is overthinking this. The gap between Roosvelt vs. the Ave. vs. 15th is not more than a couple of blocks, and very short blocks at that.

  16. I think there’s an access equity issue that arrives when you remove all car access to a major retail area. Not everyone can take the bus or walk to the Ave for various reasons and they should still be able to access the businesses on the Ave.

    1. You would definitely need to maintain some access for cars and parking lots via the side streets. Most pedestrianized streets do this! Perhaps even a few handicapped spots at the corners. As it is, it is difficult to park within a block of where you’re going on The Ave anyways, so access via side streets is not necessarily any less accessible than the status quo. And as already mentioned, the businesses there do need direct access in front for deliveries (I know someone who owns one!), so that needs to be accommodated (e.g., allow commercial vehicles at off peak hours).

      1. Yes, which is why it should allow transit. There will be the occasional truck and car on the street. It won’t be like the U-District Street Fair. The question is whether there will be buses as well. The obvious answer is yes.

  17. Those who are extolling the virtues of 15th as a transit street are forgetting its weaknesses. Consider the outbound path of the 44, after the Northgate restructure: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Sb1lKfTlvAMTbGUwNGuTGWSF0oBdBv2i/view. It will turn left on 43rd, then turn right again on Brooklyn, then left on 45th. Obviously this is bad. Why is it doing this? Because the left turn is very challenging. There is a relatively short left turn cycle, and that is the only time a bus can turn left (because of all the cars heading towards it).

    The problem would be solved if they turned 15th into a transit mall. Sorry, but that isn’t going to happen. There are just too many cars and trucks trying to make their way through. But assume for a second it did. This would push traffic to The Ave, the very street people say shouldn’t have cars. Do you really think we can turn 15th into a transit mall AND get rid of all the cars on The Ave? Get real.

    Then you have to deal with buses coming from the north. A bus like the 45 would have to detour away from the people, away from all the density and destinations by using 15th instead of University Way. Unless, of course, the bus did a dogleg, which would be nuts.

    But even if those buses detoured to 15th earlier (via Ravenna) it wouldn’t be much faster. Because it isn’t a transit mall! You think there would be no congestion serving this stop: https://goo.gl/maps/ma6rjzeGK6c3Kt6F7? Get real. The bus is in the right lane, the same lane a ton of cars use to turn right.

    There is no way that The Ave will be completely closed off to vehicles. There are too many businesses that depend on deliveries there. But can close it off to most cars (as is the case with Third). If you also kick out the buses, you’ve achieved little (you still can’t play catch in the middle of the street) while losing a lot.

    I should not that there are roughly a half-dozen avenues downtown. Not a single one has been closed to vehicles. Even First Avenue, which doesn’t have any buses south of Broad, is still open to vehicles. In contrast, we’ve build transit malls before. It takes a while, but it can be done. It is unlikely they will ban all cars, truck and buses from The Ave, and if they did, it would be much worse for transit. The Ave was one of the busiest places in the city, back when buses ran there often. Transit doesn’t hurt the urban environment, it enhances it.

  18. It seems like it got flushed down the memory hole, but there was just an extensive community planning process that created a mobility plan for the U-District. https://www.udistrictmobility.com/
    TLDR version is that buses should be on Brooklyn and 15th and the Ave should be prioritized for pedestrians.

    1. Just as the community group seemed to forget the major investment made by SDOT and Metro in the aughts to completely rebuild University Way NE with thick concrete, bus bulbs aligned with the NE 43rd Street station entrance, wider sidewalks, and new utilities, as well as the Seattle and ST decision to not have transit service on Brooklyn Avenue NE atop the Link station (parallel to the tops of the Capitol Hill and Roosevelt Link stations). Transit and pedestrians complement one another. Transit service has been centered on University Way NE for 120 years. Link was delayed but is finally about to arrive.

      1. They didn’t. Everyone in the process was well aware of these factors. Not wanting transit on Brooklyn Ave was never rationalized by the agencies. Transit should be on 15th and Brooklyn, and the Ave should be prioritized for people walking as was outlined in the plan.

  19. I rarely ever take bus on the Ave, but walk quite often (well, before COVID). From the pedestrian perspective I’d like to see a) wider sidewalks as the current ones are in many places overcrowded; and b) removing traffic lights and replacing those to something else (all way stops?) where pedestrians do not have to wait so much. Sidewalks will probably not affect buses but all-way stops will probably slow those down quite a bit. I have fantasized about adding transit pre-emption to all-way stop but not quite sure if it will ever work..

    To make any more informed suggestions I’d like to see some stats: where are the pedestrians on the Ave coming from and where are they going? How many of the restaurant patrons there are using buses versus cars versus just walk?

  20. Late to the party but wanted to add that this was looked at during the 1980s (as an earlier reader posted) but also during the planning for the Route 70 electrification. It was also discussed as part of the planning for the original U-District light rail station at Pacific by the UW physics building.

    The tradeoffs of 15th vs the Ave are well documented. The challenge with the Ave has always been the narrow width (south of 50th) which in my opinion is also its best asset. Personally I wouldn’t go all or nothing with transit on the Ave or 15th. Instead I would group by service pattern such as local on the Ave, regional or express on 15th, etc.

    At the time, I favored the electrifcation of the Ave for the Route 70 but thought the 71, 72, 73 series should be moved to 15th Ave. Part of the reason was the Bredas were so loud going northbound uphill on the Ave it created this crazy echo chamber.

    One more item, it should be noted the current bus bulbs that were added in the early 2000s as part of the Ave rebuild dramatically improved transit speed and reliability. Before that buses had to pull out of the travel lane.

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