King County Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) have been working in partnership on the Route 40 Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor Project. The goal of the project is to reduce bus travel times by 5-10% during peak periods, improve transit service reliability, and make it safer and easier to access transit.

Lots of Red paint in Fremont and along Westlake Ave, which will benefit not just the 40 but also the 31, 32 and 62. A few rechannelizations on Leary and a Northbound-only bus lane on Leary and Holman to help reliability in the PM peak (where most of the reliability issues occur).

Also welcome is a Southbound bus lane on N 36th in Fremont which could act as a queue jump, moving the bus to the front of the line when the bridge is up.

Drop-in session today at noon if you want to learn more and comment. Be sure to take the survey and let them know you support all this good stuff.

37 Replies to “Route 40 online open house”

  1. A lot of these improvements are great and definitely welcome, but seem a little half-baked.

    For instance, the left turn at Westlake and 9th Ave, as designed, would require general traffic and buses to trade lanes as the bus lane changes from being the inside lane (left) to the outside (right) lane across the intersection.

    At Leary and Dock, they plan to add bus bulbs at the stations, but don’t extend those bulbs to shorten the crosswalk distance at Dock St itself, like they do at 20th Ave.

    At Leary and 15th, they’re banning left turns from south/eastbound Leary to 15th. I make that turn fairly often – am I expected to go left on 14th, then left on 49th or 50th, then right on 15th now? Are U-turns from southbound 15th Ave to northbound 15th Ave also going to banned? That intersection is one of many complex intersections in the city – I’m hoping for a little more thought.

    1. Those are some good points – I’d recommend providing that feedback in the survey if you haven’t already.

      1. I did last week! Although, I’m going to try to join the drop-in session and see if they’re planning to address those issues already. I’m no street design professional, so it seems weird to me that they’d miss these seemingly obvious disjunctions.

        If anything, I wish they’d summarize their justifications (and previously considered/discarded ideas) for their changes in a way that makes sure I’m not wasting their time. Having been on the receiving end of public comment on work, I know it can be a huge pain in the butt.

      2. Got answers from the project team in the Q&A:

        The left turn at Westlake will feature a bus-turn-only light cycle that will allow buses to jump the queue and get into the southbound curb lane south of 9th avenue.

        At Leary and 15th, they’re spending a lot of time on the intersection and their focus is on protecting the heavy west-bound left-turn traffic. The U-turn will be allowed with signals and signage.

        It was pretty neat to be able to ask the project team questions directly!

    2. At Leary and 15th, they’re banning left turns from south/eastbound Leary to 15th. I make that turn fairly often – am I expected to go left on 14th, then left on 49th or 50th, then right on 15th now?

      Wouldn’t you just take three rights ( Seems pretty simple and quite common. Don’t take a left turn; take three rights.

      1. but… but… i want to go left!

        There’s also the traffic outside the trader joe’s to contend with, and competing with traffic coming off of 15th.

      2. Yeah, going around the (long) block only to get stuck at that light would be way slower than just turning left at 14th. Seems like they’re removing that left turn less to save space and more to speed up the light cycle. I bet they’ll end up dropping that component if enough people throw a fit.

      3. Seems like they’re removing that left turn less to save space and more to speed up the light cycle.

        Exactly. Just like they did on Denny years and years ago. I don’t ever remember being able to turn left on (most of) Denny, and I’m not exactly a spring chicken. That’s life in the big city.

      4. How will red paint along Westlake benefit any of those other routes mentioned? The 62 uses Dexter, parallel to Westlake, while the 31 and 32 go west on Nickerson, away from Westlake. In fact, the diversion of traffic from Westlake by taking a lane may knock the 62 for a loop.

      5. They said they’re removing the left turn because there’s not that much traffic that does the turn, and there’s a history of serious collisions there.

    3. If this makes it possible to get from the NW to the SE corner of Leary & 15th on foot in less than 5 minutes, I’m all for it. The lights are timed right now to require pedestrians to wait on the bird-poop-encrusted sidewalk under 15th for an eternity because it’s not possible to cross all of 15th in one cycle without sprinting, all to make that left turn possible for drivers and not make the 40 wait for an eternity behind them.

      1. While Seattle has plenty of lousy awful intersections for pedestrians, navigating the complexities of the intersection of 15th Avenue NW & Leary Way NW puts this unfortunate intersection its own a special category of lousy and awful given the accumuluated bird poop and the short walk signal cycles mentioned here. In travel planning, you have to budget at least 3-4 minutes to successfully make the transfer between Route 40 and the D Line. I think I made it once in under 2 minutes due to dumb luck.

      2. Also, that intersection forces pedestrians to use beg buttons. I kind of understand requiring them for north/south pedestrian travel, as on very rare occasions, the south- or northbound signals don’t get triggered by cars. But there’s zero reasons east-west pedestrian signals shouldn’t be automatic.

        And if you miss hitting the button by one second, you are waiting a long time or taking your life into your own hands while committing a violation according to Seattle. If you’re trying to get from the SW to NE corner and miss hitting a button along the way, you may as well grab a beer at Peddler and wait it out.

    4. Three rights (14th, Ballard, 15th puts runs one through two lights and dumps the vehicle right into the congested queue in the bridge ramp. Put a protected westbound left at 14th with a decent cycle.

      And Yes, Nathan, you WILL have to turn left at 14th, and then again at 49th or 50th. Sad.

      If the southbound 15th to northbound 15th U-turn is executed frequently, they should reconfigure the bridge to include a “Texas Two-Step” loop between the sidewalk and bridge in that fenced in lot. Tear down the fence and put a lane between the supports next to the sidewalk and the next set fifty feet back. This may be too low for trucks, but cars would be able to use it. No traffic light at all.

      1. SAD!

        Protected westbound left at 14th is the plan.

        They said they’re developing signage and signalling patterns to facilitate the u-turn. I doubt they have the engineering budget to establish a worthwhile roadbed under the bridge, but it’s probably worth a comment in their survey.

      2. Thanks for not correcting me, Nathan. It’s an EASTbound left. If the Link station is on 14th, there will be a bus from 24th that goes down Leary and then hooks left to the station that can use it too.

      3. Three rights (14th, Ballard, 15th puts runs one through two lights and dumps the vehicle right into the congested queue in the bridge ramp.

        Big deal. You can find similar very challenging turns on Denny or other places where they ban left turns. There aren’t a lot of people who go this way. You would be essentially heading southwest, then heading north. It doesn’t make sense if you are north of Market, which means only a handful are doing this. They can always start by heading north (instead of south) on Leary, and then taking a right on Market, then turn on 15th.

        Put a protected westbound left at 14th with a decent cycle.

        If by “decent” you mean very short, then sure. From a safety standpoint, it is good to have a left turn cycle. But we really aren’t talking about that many people. I see no reason to slow down the 40 (and the vast majority of drivers on Leary) for the handful of people doing this maneuver. Have a short cycle. If it takes two cycles to make that turn, fewer people will use. It takes years for a bus route to change; drivers change their behavior almost immediately.

  2. Overall, really happy to see this happening, especially the northbound bus lane approaching the Fremont Bridge, the road dies on Leary, and the redesigned intersection and traffic signal at 20th and Leary. It’s like SDOT was reading my mind (although all of these are pretty obvious fixes that will also make life a little more predictable and less chaotic for car drivers as well). Can’t happen soon enough!

  3. Southbound Fremont approaching the Fremont bridge really needs a bus lane (with limited right turn access to 34th). When the bridge is up, the bus needs to be able to pull up to the bus and open its doors, so when the bridge comes down, it’s ready to go.

    The bus shouldn’t have to first wait for bridge to go down, then wait for the cars to move out of the way, the pull up to the stop and wait again while passengers get on and off.

    1. Definitely already in the plan. Q&A indicated that they’re also looking at increasing the standing room at that southbound bus station.

      1. re standing room on Fremont Avenue North nearside North 34th Street: what I heard was a consideration of all-door boarding and alighting that would both speed boarding and spread out waiting. they probably cannot increase the sidewalk area due to limited right of way.

      2. definitely looking at all-door-boarding by putting orca card scanners on the sidewalk. They also mentioned investigating putting some permeable surface on the planter to make the dirt in the tree pit space legitimate standing area.

  4. This looks outstanding. I pretty much said that in the comments. It is really encouraging to see projects like this, especially when it seems like everything is going backwards in transit for the area (big delays with ST projects, big cutbacks for Metro).

    My only quibble was for a couple stretches that call for road diets. Road diets are nice, but bus lanes are better. On 36th, there will be a bus lane southbound (towards the Fremont Bridge) which is great. But northbound, it narrows to one lane, with a turn lane. This allows them to put in curb bulbs, which make crossing the street easier. It also allows them to have parking both directions. This is a bit weird for southbound, in that someone who is parking will use the bus lane to parallel park (potentially slowing the bus down). But northbound, it is all general purpose lanes, and going from two to one lane (at Phinney) could cause congestion for the buses. I would rather see bus lanes both directions. There is room, if you take out the parking (it would be one general purpose and one bus lane each direction, along with a center turn lane). This wouldn’t be quite as nice for crossing the street, but faster for the buses.

    That being said, for all I know this traffic worry won’t materialize. Then again, I think it would be nice to test it out. Put up some cones for a while (narrowing the lanes) and see what happens (in terms of traffic). If it isn’t a problem, great. If it is, they can just add bus lanes.

    The same situation is proposed for Leary, between 15th and Market. In this case, there is a northbound bus lane, close to Market. That might be sufficient.

    But again, these are quibbles, and trade-offs. In general everything looks like a huge improvement over what exists now.

  5. One GP lane on WB Market west of Leary would be interesting. There’s a lot of traffic on Market, but I could see some drivers diverting to 56th if they’re going to head north on 24th, or use Shilshole instead to get to 24th if coming from Fremont.

    Not a huge fan of potentially diverting more traffic to Shilshole because it is such a major bike corridor and the missing link will never be completed until I move away probably.

    1. I live up 24th and when I’m trying to get there from 15th, I’ll do anything to avoid Market as it is. I can make that transit much faster at 65th, 56th/57th or even Shilsole (as you mentioned).

      As I see it, Market isn’t primarily for car traffic anyhow. It’s a downtown area, and having a fast-moving two-way car arterial through the middle of it is something we should remedy in general.

    2. I don’t think it will make much difference on Shilshole. Drivers for which that is a decent option already use it. I’m also not sure if it makes much difference if you are biking it. I suppose the fewer people that pass you the better, but to me it is the idiot driver (that goes way too fast) that scares me. As with road diets, the sane drivers (driving the speed limit) slow down the idiot drivers.

      I also think the city needs to play hardball in the area, in the name of safety. Do this sort of thing: This gives the plaintiffs in the case an incentive to build the path.

  6. At some point, I would like to see the 40 become RapidRide, with all (or mostly) off-board payment. There is certainly enough ridership (or ridership per hour of service) to justify this.

    I would also like to see the northern tails of the D and the 40 changed. Continue the D to Northgate, following the current route of the 40. Then have the 40 just continue straight across on 85th, eventually heading north on Wallingford, and then on up to 92nd and over to Northgate that way (following the current 26, but without the button hook to the campus). This would do several nice things:

    1) The 40 would be shorter, and the D would be longer, providing much better balance (since the 40 is longer south of 85th).

    2) You have a one-seat connection from Greenwood to Ballard, as well as Greenwood to Northgate.

    3) You no longer double up service on Holman Road, but instead double it up on 85th (where there are more people).

    4) Give riders on 85th double frequency for trips along 85th, as well as trips to Link.

    5) Much faster trip from Northgate to Phinney Ridge, and similar places. Instead of going from 92nd to 110th (then back down again) you head south the entire way. Not only would this make getting to Phinney Ridge a lot easier, but also the west side of Green Lake (via the E) and places along 8th NW (28).

    Of course you achieve much the same thing with the 61. SDOT and Metro are leaning away from the 61, towards a modified 26 (called the 20 in this document — I don’t like this route, but it may be what we are stuck with. If nothing else, it provides coverage along Northgate Way between Lake City and Northgate. That would then set the stage for extending the 40. There would be trade-offs between the two approaches:

    61 — Direct connection from Greenwood to Lake City, as well as all the places between Northgate and Lake City. This includes quite a few apartments on 5th and Northgate Way.

    20, along with a modified 40 — Direct connection from Greenwood to Ballard and Fremont. The 40 would be frequent, while the 20 would be infrequent.

    In the short run, I would much prefer the 61 over the 20. I think it is a much better route. But in the long run, if they kept the 20 as a coverage route, and extended the 40 to Northgate (via 85th) it could work out really well. I could also see them abandoning the 20, and just extending the 40 all the way to Lake City (if it isn’t too far).

    1. “I would like to see the 40 become RapidRide”

      That is in Seattle’s and Metro’s long-term plans, and was in Move Seattle I think. It got deferred because of Move Seattle’s overoptimistic budgeting and the pandemic. These improvements are an interim step to get something toward RapidRide in the meantime.

      There was a lot of controversy when the D was created on whether it should have been on 15th or Leary/24th. The opposition wanted it in “real Ballard”; the city preferred 15th to serve future development and have a straighter shot north. In the end both it and the 40 were created. Some people stuck to the 40 because it’s closer, while I would have taken the D because it had next-arrival signs and was more frequent. Metro finally gave in in 2016 and said they’d both be RapidRide. And now that both the D and 40 are two of the highest-ridership routes in the city, that makes sense. But the 40’s redification is unfunded at this point.

      In the run-up to the D there was community support for extending it to Northgate instead of the 40. Metro said it would have but it couldn’t afford to extend it to Northgate within the RapidRide budget, so it sent a regular route to Northgate instead.

      1. Yeah, RapidRide is expensive. You have both the special bus stops and the special buses. The special buses mean that it isn’t easy to shift things around. For example, if it they didn’t add the special bus stops, you can’t just send the D and 40 to Northgate as I suggested, even if you got the service hours from cancelling the 41. In other words, it is no temporary substitute for the 61, because the D is red, and the 40 isn’t.

      2. Why not run Rapid Ride on non-RR bus stops? You lose the all-door boarding because of the lack of off-board fare collection, but there’s no reason a red bus cannot stop and load passengers are a regular bus stop. Don’t the Rapid Ride buses have fare collection at the front door?

      3. Why not run Rapid Ride on non-RR bus stops?

        Metro does this already. They have two types of bus stops: “stations” and “stops”. The stops are like any other stop (you board at the front and pay there).

        Stations have ORCA readers and all-door boarding. They also have display signs, and other nice features that go along with the branding.

        It would be weird to not have any “stations” between 14th and Northgate (for the extended D). I suppose you could still do it as a temporary measure, but then you run across the other problem: not enough red buses. If you didn’t rebrand the 40, but switched up tails, it would mean the D is significantly longer. This would mean a small increase in overall service, but a big increase in RapidRide service. This is one of the trade-offs with the RapidRide thing.

        I would probably do it as a two step process:

        1) Extend the D to Northgate. This costs money (for the new stations and the extra buses) but not a huge amount. You could probably get grant money for it as well. At this point, you can send the 40 along 85th to Northgate (as a regular bus).

        2) Convert the 40 to RapidRide. The 40 really should have off-board payment. It is perfect for it, as much of the time is spent at bus stops. There are a lot of them, and most are very popular (I count over 20 stops with over 100 riders). Speeding up dwell time would make a huge difference. This would be more expensive, of course, but well worth it.

  7. RossB has some good network concepts; of course, there are many good options. But note each implementation faces its own constraints of operating subsidy, rights of way, and coaches. Early in Transit Now, service subsidy and branded buses were limiting factors. The recent phasing decisions on seven intra Seattle RR lines (e.g., Madison, Delridge, Roosevelt, 7, 40, 44, and 48) were allowed to be made by the Kubly SDOT. SDOT focused it resources on three monumental projects (e.g., Madison, CCC Streetcar, and Roosevelt) and did not execute them quickly. SDOT chose not to focus on lines that might have been executed more quickly and coincident in time with Link expansions (e.g., routes 7, 40, 44, and 48). The three monumental project are shiny but require more planning, capital, management, and network restructure. So both Transit Now and Metro Connects are severely under funded and choices have to be made. The button hook to the NSC has transit purpose; it may make sense.

    1. Madison was the most critical. it has highrises, hospitals, and a lot of new develoment. It lost a Link station and is not served adequately by the streetcar, 2, 3, 4, 12, or 60. The 2, 3, 4, and 12 get stuck in major congestion afternoons. I’ve been on a 2 that took half an hour to get from 3rd Avenue to Brodaway, and I used to live near Harborview so I got in the 3 and 4 congestion. I used to rejoice when the infrequent 27 came before the 3 or 4 because it avoided that bottleneck.

    2. The biggest problem is that Move Seattle was underfunded. It couldn’t possibly fund all of the things they said it could fund (these things: So rather than have a debate over what should be built, or actually ask for money, Kubly and Murray just pretended there wasn’t a problem. They lied to the public and said nothing about the shortfall. Soon after, Murry was kicked out of office, and Kubly went with him (good riddance to both).

      I would probably prioritize the Madison project, followed by the 44. Then again, it was bound to be one of the more expensive ones, so maybe it could have been pushed back. If we got the 7, 40, 44, and 48 by the time we got Northgate Link, things would be much better (especially if the 40 and D went to Northgate). Overlapping service on Holman Road is a waste. Sending the 40 to Northgate via 85th would correct one of the obvious weaknesses in the northern network. Greenwood is isolated — disconnected from both Ballard and Northgate, and it looks like that will continue. There is merit in the northern tail of the 40, but that shouldn’t be the only way to head west from Northgate.

  8. What does King County Metro plan to do about the fact that all route 40 and 62 buses go off of their schedules in downtown between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., with almost no buses showing up during those hours. In addition to buses simply not showing up at or near their designated arrival times during those hours, King County Metro doesn’t offer any explanation of why there are so many scheduled buses, but none that actually arrive at bus stops for several hours in the middle of the day. Please advise.

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