Northgate Link Extension Construction
The future Northgate Link Station under construction, adjacent to the existing Northgate Transit Center (Atomic Taco)

Since Sound Transit has announced that Northgate Link will open on October 2nd, which is a few weeks behind a widely anticipated September 2021 opening, King County Metro has also changed the Northgate bus service restructure to occur on October 2nd as well. When we reported on Metro’s scaled back plans for restructuring service for Northgate Link, there were a lot of disappointments in how the plan was scaled back to match COVID-19 adjusted revenue expectations. But Metro’s plan assumed no contribution from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD), to establish a baseline for the STBD to build on. Now we have details on how the city will spend its STBD money on bus service.

The plan is broken down into three broad categories: West Seattle, Northgate, and service reductions. West Seattle is getting special attention due to the effects of the sudden closure of the West Seattle Bridge last year, increasing travel time for buses on the lower Spokane Street bridge. The closure of the low bridge to general traffic also increases demand for bus service in the corridor. The Northgate area is going to be transformed by the opening of Northgate Link, so much of the service funded by the STBD is going to be adjusted. Finally, there are reductions to the STBD program that are necessary because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

West Seattle

The STBD will provide 30,000* annual service hours in the West Seattle region, with extra investments in West Seattle to phase out in 2023 when the bridge repair is expected to be complete. Of these 30,000 service hours, approximately 14,000 will go to boost route 50, 9,000 to boost routes 120 and C-Line, and 7,000 for route 60.

This portion of route 50 will get frequent weekday service (image: SDOT)

Route 50, which runs from the Rainier Valley to Alki in a coverage-oriented route, will get boosted weekday frequency on the SODO to Alki portion of the route, specifically to provide a frequent two-seat ride from any Link station in the system to Alaska Junction, Admiral, and Alki. Though it’s specified that this will bring headways on this part of route 50 from 30 minutes to 15 minutes from 6 AM to 7 PM (implying the addition of short runs from SODO to Alki to provide that frequency boost), route 50 runs at 20 minute headways for most of that time. So this report implies that route 50 as a whole will be reduced to half-hourly frequency on weekdays, with boosted frequency on the part of the route west of SODO Station.

Route 120 and the RapidRide C Line will get midday weekday headways boosted from 12 minutes to 10 minutes. Weekday headways from 7 to 9 PM will be boosted to 15 minutes, ensuring frequent weekday service on both routes at least from 6 AM to 9 PM. The improvements here are specifically timed for when most drivers are not permitted to use the low bridge, which boosts demand for transit service.

Route 60 will have weekday headways improved from 15 to 12 minutes from 6 AM to 7 PM. From 7 PM to 9 PM, headways will be improved from 30 to 15 minutes, extending the span of frequent service. Route 60 is a useful alternative connection to West Seattle that avoids the West Seattle Bridge vicinity, and serves Westwood Village, South Park, Georgetown, Beacon Hill, First Hill, and Capitol Hill.

*Note that the due to the removal of the STBD contribution that decouples the C and D lines, Metro may adjust service here to make up for the loss of revenue

Northgate

King County Metro bus service in Northgate is changing to connect with Link, with the most obvious change being the removal of route 41. STBD-funded service is changing too. Though the STBD currently funds 40,000 annual service hours in this area, only 26,000 hours will be carried forward for the foreseeable future to match service levels with projected program funding.

New route 20 will replace route 26, and fill in the gap in service along NE Northgate Way (image: SDOT)

Route 20 will be a new route, running from the U-district to Northgate and Lake City. This replaces the current route 26. King County Metro’s base plan included route 26 in a truncated from from U-district to Northgate. Route 20 is the same route, except lengthened to run along NE Northgate Way and Lake City Way NE, terminating at the current terminus of route 41. This fills in a gap in all-day service along NE Northgate Way, where there would only have been peak-only service on new route 361. Frequency is also boosted on weekdays from 30 minutes to 15 minutes.

Night owl improvements are coming to routes 7, 40, 48, 49, 65, and 67. These routes will get back hourly night own service, partially offsetting the steep reduction of night owl service overall that occurred in September 2020.

Routes 40, 44, and 70 will maintain their existing STBD hours, which will be used to smooth off-peak frequency to be closer to peak frequency than it otherwise would be without STBD funding.

Service reductions

The portion of the C and D lines that the STBD fully funds (shown circled) is having responsibility for funding transferred to King County Metro

STBD is cutting some of its other investments to bring the cost of the program in line with reduced revenues. One big change is removal of funding for the RapidRide C/D Line split. When introduced in 2012, the RapidRide C and D lines were through-routed with each other, with northbound Cs turning into Ds, and southbound Ds turning into Cs at downtown Seattle. In 2016, the STBD provided funding to split these routes into their own separate trips, with the D Line ending in Pioneer Square, and the C Line ending at South Lake Union. This expands service and dramatically improves reliability, but is also expensive, costing 43,000 annual service hours. As part of cuts to the program, STBD will no longer provide this funding. However, Metro will keep this split and service to SLU and Pioneer Square, and will preserve this service by making unspecified service reductions in Seattle to counteract the cost of the split.

Route 41 will have all STBD-funded hours removed (13,600), as the route itself is being deleted. These hours will not be reinvested into other service, and are part of the overall reduction of the program.

Reduced UW and reduced weekday schedules are coming back. King County Metro normally reduces trips serving UW during times when the UW is out of session, and reduces certain peak-only trips during secondary holidays (such as Veterans Day). Until now, the STBD funded the removal of these reductions for routes that operate within the city. This meant that UW routes operated with full service year-round, and secondary holidays would run full weekday service. These enhancements will be going away, saving 6,500 annual service hours.

Routes 2, 3, 12, 24, 33, 43, 49, 62, 65, 125, 345, and 373 will see all of their STBD improvements removed (12,900 hours). This includes the entirety of the peak-only variant of route 43. Route 44 trips which deadhead to/from Atlantic Base will very likely remain, but might not retain the 43 numbering.

72 Replies to “Metro service change moves to October 2nd, STBD changes unveiled”

  1. Your map still shows Route 50 going to Holgate. It already has returned to Lander now that the overpass opened.

    They aren’t changing it back in October, are they?

    1. I see now that this is an agency map from the presentation linked in the article. I think they made a mistake.

    2. Ha, good catch! Yeah they made a mistake. It would make no sense at all to move the 50 back to Holgate, especially with a new bridge over the tracks.

      There’s a few mistakes in the presentation. There’s even a map of the 48 with the northbound detour to 19th Ave in place, which was there during construction in I think 2016-2017.

  2. I am surprised at the removal of the C/D split. Didn’t a lot of street changes go into this in South Lake Union? Won’t this be a long route with reliability problems?

    1. Al, the article says that Metro will continue the split, probably for exactly the reasons you noted. We don’t know for how long that might continue.

      1. Yeah, that was my interpretation as well. What is going to happen is that the cost of splitting those routes will go into the routes themselves (i. e. they will run less often). To quote the presentation “Metro planning to make cuts to service equal to cost of C/D Line split.”

        This is the bizarro world we live in. At the same time Sound Transit is planning on spending 12 billion dollars for a line from Ballard to West Seattle, Metro is cutting back service that make up the heart of it. So, basically this is deemed the most important corridor in the region, but we will cut back service on it (even though the buses weren’t especially frequent to begin with). Only in America …

      2. It’s admittedly vague, but the article does “undpecified service reductions in Seattle” so the hours will probably not all come out of these two routes.

      3. Thanks Tom. Yeah, I realized that after reading it again, and didn’t get around to correcting my comment. This itself is rather ominous. They will make unspecified cuts to unspecified routes at some point. When? Where? Beware.

        The weird part is that they are adding things (like the 20) even though they say they need to make these cuts. That doesn’t make sense to me.

      4. When is probably October. Where is whatever Metro cuts to make room for the C and D tails. Metro may know that already or it may not, since it’s six months away. Why the 20 is created is to support the Northgate Link restructure, and because the TBD is partly funding it and asked for it. But it’s only the northern half that’s being added now. The southern half was already in Metro’s restructure, as a 26 from U-District Station to Northgate Station.

      5. Isn’t one of the reasons for Link to relieve north-south Metro demand? I’m hoping that the reductions are a result of riders moving to Link. After all, relieving overcrowded buses was a motivator for building Link in this corridor.

      6. Al, the 70’s have already been truncated to HSS. A few far north King County express routes are being truncated at Northgate, including the 800 pound Gorilla of the group, the 41 which has been replaced by a rerouted 75.

        Those hours have long since been eliminated in the pandemic or “planned away”. There isn’t any more fruit to pick, low-hanging or ladder-required.

      7. That is one of the reasons yes, but Link isn’t going to be finished on this corridor for… what, twenty years at this point? Sort of hasty cutting the bus routes now.

    2. That RR C/D were coupled in the beginning was stupidity at its finest, even though there were financial constraints that “necessitated” that.

      To recouple two of the highest performing routes in the Puget Sound region would be downright criminal, even ignoring the infrastructure improvements that went into decoupling RR C/D.

      I still remember the days when an accident in West Seattle could completely derail bus service to Ballard or a Ballard Bridge opening would do the same to West Seattle. To see three Ds forming a 180 ft long road train to Ballard was not uncommon. After decoupling, it was rare to even see two Ds back to back, the reliability had improved so much.

      1. Metro is not recoupling them. The TBD created the split by funding the tails. Now the TBD will stop subsiding it and transfer the burden to Metro. Metro has indicated it will keep the split if SDOT’s powerpoint is accurate. (Linked at “details” in the first paragraph of the article.) Metro knows there are good reasons to keep the split:

        1) The C and D are among the highest-ridership routes in Seattle, and have a high increase rate.

        2) SLU needs several frequent routes to serve all the new highrise offices and apartments there.

        3) Ballard riders complained continuously ever since the D was created about losing a one-seat ride to lower downtown and Pioneer Square. It makes sense that north-south routes through downtown should go all the way through downtown. Splitting the C and D allows the D to serve all of downtown.

        The counter-issue is money. The original RapidRide A-F budget wasn’t large enough to operate the C and D separately, and Seattle has many other underserved corridors competing for funding. Now Metro’s revenues are diminished in the recession, and the TBD is diminished because of the Eyman shenanigans and the recession and the city’s desire to spend part of it on other things than service hours. So the near future will not be as perfect as Metro wants it to be (as shown in its long-range plan). But even if they are interlined again, it will be an annoyance to D riders and SLU riders but not the end of the Seattle transit world. There will be another day with a better economy and more enlightened politicians and voters, and then maybe we can fix Metro’s service-hour deficiency once and for all.

      2. Ballard riders complained continuously ever since the D was created about losing a one-seat ride to lower downtown and Pioneer Square.

        Yes, we all remember when Metro took the trio of Ballard workhorses, combined them and had them only serve half of downtown. To complain is one way to put it. It’d be like “complaining” that Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light were combining for efficiency but were only going to serve half of your house.

        The original RapidRide A-F budget wasn’t large enough to operate the C and D separately, and Seattle has many other underserved corridors competing for funding.

        To kneecap two of the highest performing routes in the City to help underserved corridors was idiocracy.

  3. Is the 26 gone completely then? So no more one seat ride to downtown from N 40th St?

    I guess walk to the 62 or connect in Fremont or the U District via the 31/32 is the alternative. Still would leave a fairly large area of Wallingford with worse service than before.

    1. Yes, it was a coverage route. Both 40th and Latona have routes to U-District Station but not to downtown.

    2. If you live on Latona between 40th and 45th, simply walking across the freeway to UW station is another option to consider. The distance is short enough that a brisk walk will probably be faster than connecting on the 31/32.

      1. I was also initially concerned about the removal of the 26, but honestly, it’s unreliable and infrequent enough that I think the 31/32/44+Link will be equivalent or better. It’s important to remember that the 31 will be coming back on both Saturdays and Sundays (keeping 15 minute service on 40th), plus the 31/32 will be routed past Brooklyn Station rather than along Stevens Way (no more long walk to the stadium).

      2. “…it’s [route 26] unreliable and infrequent enough…”

        Really? For the ten years that I took this bus to get downtown (from 40th and Stone Way) I didn’t find that to be the case, for the most part, with regard to reliability. Perhaps that has changed in more recent years. I think there were a few more total runs when I was taking the bus than there are today, but the handful of express runs were only during the peak hours. These expresses back then were frequently SRO.

        http://web.archive.org/web/20001215083900/http://transit.metrokc.gov/bus/schedules/s026_0_.html

      3. “It’s important to remember that the 31 will be coming back on both Saturdays and Sundays”

        If true, this is extremely welcome news. I never thought it made sense for a corridor like Fremont->U-district to have just one bus every half hour on Sundays and, last fall, the 31 was cut on Saturdays also.

        Where did you hear about this? I haven’t heard anywhere an indication that the weekend 31 was coming back.

    3. Is the 26 gone completely then? So no more one seat ride to downtown from N 40th St?

      Correct. They are keeping the least productive part, and getting rid of the most productive part. Of course if you live in an apartment in the middle of the route (e. g. 56th and Latona) it will be nice to get a one seat ride to the UW, just like folks along East Lake get a one seat ride up to Capitol Hill. Oh, wait, I mean houses, since there are only houses there. And I also made up the part about getting from East Lake to Capitol Hill.

      1. The 26 is an express to mostly single-family areas. Lower Wallingford is not very productive either, and has the 31, 32, 44, and 62. Tangletown is probably the reason the southern half of the 20 is remaining.

      2. “Lower Wallingford is not very productive either, ”

        Again, source to back this up?

      3. Look at the houses. Whenever I’ve been on the 26 there hasn’t been many people on it. But the most frustrating thing is having a single-family residential-only area so close to the U-District and 45th. That’s just wasting North Seattle’s potential, preventing more people from living there, and making it longer to walk to things. The issue is not whether this neighborhood should have an express to downtown in isolation, it’s why should it get more than other areas that have more people and a better mix of housing and businesses and have worse transit options?

      4. The Stone Way corridor (where much of the ridership come from) has a lot of apartments. Which is not to say that the 26 is an ideal route. But riders south of 45th between Aurora and I-5 should have a good option for getting to downtown, other than taking the very slow 62 or walking to catch the 31/32 and backtracking to the UW. If nothing else, I would have a rush-hour express version of the 62 (covering part of 45th and Stone Way) that would go to downtown via Aurora. That makes more sense than the upper part of the 26 (the new 20) or the other express buses that go downtown (which literally go right by a station on there way there). It is hard to see why a bus like the 361 makes sense, but not a bidirectional bus like this: https://goo.gl/maps/fXkqUQSrmvANMRvcA.

      5. The 62 is only twenty minutes from downtown to Wallingford. It just has a meandering middle that takes a long time if you’re going from 65th to downtown. But with Northgate Link you won’t have to do that anymore.

      6. It is a substantial time penalty to take the 26 instead of the 62, from lower Wallingford. At noon, Google puts the time penalty at 8 minutes (https://goo.gl/maps/aj57QwFQYWtnzhrG7). Both buses leave at the same time, and both require a 2 minute walk. During rush hour, Google puts the difference at 6 minutes (https://goo.gl/maps/wEfn55xEXM8Hp1CQ8).

        That is a fairly significant difference — larger than that felt by other proposed express buses. But the big difference is that it is lot cheaper to run. Running a handful of bidirectional express buses from 45th to downtown (via Stone Way and Aurora) is a lot cheaper than running buses from Kenmore to downtown (going by one station or the other) that dead head back.

        I’m not saying we should have any express buses of this nature, but if we are going to have them, then they should have good ridership per hour of service and provide a lot of time savings. A route like the one I sketched out is better in both regards.

      7. The time savings of the 26 may be even larger if you’re headed to somewhere like Belltown, Seattle Center, or parts of South Lake Union, rather than going all the way into the center of downtown.

      8. I should also point out that during rush hour, the 26 performs better than average for a route that goes downtown, and above the 62. Outside of rush hour, it is the reverse, as the 62 outperforms the 26. During rush hour, it is carried along by the riders south of 45th, with about 100 riders using the one stop at 40th and Stone Way (by far the most riders in that period at any stop). The rest of the day, it is the two stops up north (Northgate Transit Center and the North Seattle College) that carry the route. With the station and the new pedestrian bridge to the college, a lot of those riders will switch to Link. On the other hand, the express riders from south of 45th don’t have a good Link alternative, and will only wish they had the fast 26, instead of the slow 62.

        It is also worth noting that for that morning trip, the two most popular places to get off the bus are at Aurora & Denny, along with 5th & Wall (this was before the tunnel, so no data for Thomas and Aurora). The 62 gets you to the same general location, but Link does not. Thus some people along 45th might prefer this bus over taking the 44 to Link. This is the same argument used for all the new express buses. In this case though, it is only a subset of the riders — the main beneficiaries would be folks who are too far south to easily get a ride to Link. This all fits with my main argument, which is that a bus like that would probably perform well, while the other express buses probably won’t. This will get riders *between* Link and downtown, while the other expresses won’t have any stops between Link and downtown.

      9. It is a substantial time penalty to take the 26 instead of the 62

        You have it backward Ross. The 26 uses Aurora; the 62 goes through Fremont and takes Dexter. There are a lot more stops that way, even if you ignore the mess at the Fremont Bridge.

        I think you just reversed the numbers (they both have the same two digits; interesting…) when you wrote that sentence, because your analysis points out that the 26 is eight minutes faster than the 62.

        I don’t want to harp, but a first time reader might get the wrong impression.

        I do think that the lower end of the route deserves some express service. Keep the 26 number and run it from the little Park-N-Ride under the freeway west to Latona, and then the classic route to downtown. Perhaps three runs? Maybe as many as five? One way of course in the classic express method. In the morning the buses could return from downtown on the freeway; northbound in the morning isn’t too bad. In the afternoon they should return to downtown by taking the classic route to Green Lake Way and then left to 50th and Aurora. I don’t know if the city wants buses on Green Lake Way there, but three or four a day shouldn’t be too much impact.

      10. The southern fringe of Wallingford along Lake Union has lots of apartments. To meet Mike’s objection to the single-family homes along 40t5h, how about having such an express continue a block south of 40th on the 2nd NE/Latona couplet to Pacific and take Pacific “around the horn” to Wallingford, back up to 40th and continue on the existing route.

        Yes, this is a “loop” deviation which is normally a big mistake in bus routing. But it runs through a HUMUNGOUS collection of fancy new apartments and condos along the lake which don’t have any transit less than six blocks away. I bet a LOT of the residents there work in downtown Seattle.

      11. “The southern fringe of Wallingford along Lake Union has lots of apartments. ”

        Yes. This.
        This is what I was alluding to in one of my earlier comments. With the 26 eliminated, folks here have to rely on the 31/32 or walk even farther to reach the slower 62. If I still lived in lower Wallingford today facing this situation and still worked in West Seattle (taking the 26X and transferring to the 20 downtown), I’d probably try the 31/32 + Link path to see how it goes. But frankly, relying upon a three-seat commute to go from just north of the ship canal to within spitting distance of the Port would be far from ideal. I could see myself seeking employment elsewhere or perhaps even buying a vehicle since I had parking spaces both at my residence and at my place of work.

        I agree with RossB’s take on this in the larger context. If Metro is going to run these commuter-focused express routes elsewhere, it seems crazy to me to completely eliminate this portion of the 26 that essentially serves this function for lower Wallingford. Both of your proposals seem reasonable to me. Fwiw, when I was taking the 26 on a daily basis, Metro ran five SB expresses between 6:20am and 8:00am. They were quite popular and frequently SRO by the time they reached 40th and Stone Way.

      12. “The 26 uses Aurora; the 62 goes through Fremont and takes Dexter.”

        The difference is not that much. Sometimes I take a 26 at 3rd & Pine and transgfer to the 62 at 40th & Stone Way, and the 26 comes just before the 62 and the transfer wait is only a few minutes. Dexter isn’t that slow, and north of Galer it flies through most of the stops.It was worse during the tunnel construction (finished) and Denny Triangle construction (maybe ongoing).

        Would a peak express 62 be a reasonable compromise?

      13. Mike, No, not really. It would be great for the apartments up Stone Way and along 45th back to Meridian, and the little cluster in Tangletown, but it completely misses the solid block of apartments and condos along Pacific from 40th around the curve to Wallingford. Grant, the 26 doesn’t serve those along 34th very well from 40th at all, but at least it does serve them. The 62 is way the hell over on Stone Way; when it was the 16 it came down Wallingford to 40th and turned right to Stone Way and Bridge Way. For folks right at 34th and Wallingford, walking to 35th and Stone is about a wash with 40th and Wallingford, but for anyone east of there it is a really long way.

        Yes, Stone Way has a lot of apartments as well. But if a 26X made the 34th loop but then returned to 40th on Wallingford it would still provide the express service that Ross referred to and hoover up folks from all across lakefront Wallingford.

      14. Refinement. Second NE is one way northbound and First NE is one way southbound, so an express which went on to Pacific would have to make another pair of turns. Suboptimal, yes, but for five runs a day each way not a terrible cost.

      15. Tlsgwm, “the Link path” you described would have the undeniable virtue of speeding through downtown without traffic. Yes, it’s a slog to HSS, but once there, it’s maybe twelve minutes to SoDo. Getting from there to Delridge south of the West Seattle Freeway, though, might be tedious. Four seats; ouch.

      16. “Would a peak express 62 be a reasonable compromise?”

        No. It would do nothing for those who live well east of Stone Way.

      17. @TomT
        I was actually thinking of the routing going as follows: 31/32 to U-District Station, Link to “University” St Station and then the 120 to Delridge. 3 transit seats. Google Maps shows the trip by car at 7:30am on Monday taking 18-35 minutes, but that includes the long required loop-around from East Marginal to West Marginal Way because of the West Seattle Bridge closure.

        Fwiw. Years ago when I took the 26X every day there used to be another SB stop on Bridge Way between 40th/Stone Way and the stop right on the 99 ramp. It wasn’t used that much since folks who would normally board there would walk up to 40th and Stone Way to assure that they wouldn’t get passed by. Hence, the group boarding at Stone Way was typically a decent number of riders.

      18. Tlsgwm, I did wonder if you’d change downtown. Since that means one fewer transfer and the 120 takes the Columbia pathway, it’s definitely better.

    4. “Still would leave a fairly large area of Wallingford with worse service than before.”

      Indeed. I’ve noted this in a couple of comment threads recently. And, no, the southern part of the 26 was not a coverage route. Walking to Stone Way to catch the frequent 62 adds a good 15 minutes on the front end for lots of folks in lower Wallingford, in addition to the increased time the 62 takes to get downtown. I suppose if I still lived where I used to live in lower Wallingford today, I would try taking the 31/32 over to Campus Pkwy and hike up to the soon-to-open U-District Station and then take Link to downtown and see which approach is faster. I think ultimately both options are going to end up taking more time than the 26 does today. Sorry to see it go away.

      1. Tlsgwm, I generally take the 26 on weekends or (occasionally) on weekdays at peak, but aside from the past year, it’s frequently 15+ minutes late. Part of the problem is that it’s a very long route if you include the 131/132 portion of it, but it also makes lots of weird deviations that slow it down, along with a series of unprotected left turns in the northbound direction (we’ve been stuck at the turn from 1st onto 80th for over 10 minutes sometimes).

        The 31/32 will more than make up for it, especially since you don’t have to walk all the way from Campus Parkway with them stopping right at Brooklyn Station.

      2. I ride the 131/132 every week or two, and they’re usually 5-20 minutes late between 10:30am and 7:30pm. It’s not just the length of the routes; there are bottlenecks somewhere or they need transit-priority lanes. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more outrage about this because it’s been going on for years and it affects the local north-south routes in four communities. I would cry if these were my closest routes. Metro really needs to fix the reliability of these things, or do what it’s doing to restructure the 26 out of the bottlenecks. Or maybe the schedule is just too tight and Metro should put more buses on them.

      3. I agree, both options will take longer to get downtown on average from the southern part of Wallingford.

        With perfect connections 31/32–>Link is probably faster, but with poor connections it is certainly slower. With the EB 31/32 leg subject to the Fremont Bridge opening, variability will be higher. Walking–>Link is just under a mile from 40-45/Latona to 43/Brooklyn with a lot of intersections to wait at, longer for those further west.

        Combining

      4. @Skylar
        Your comment above made me curious enough to look up the route 31 service revisions. I see what you mean now about the new routing getting one closer to the LR station and using the Roosevelt and 11th couplet to/from 45th. All good. That should save a few minutes of walking from Campus Pkwy.

        Fwiw. I have only ever ridden the 26 north of 45th a handful of times so my experience has been limited to using it between lower Wallingford and downtown.

        Here’s the route 31 narrative shown on page 100 of the revision package prepared for the Mobility and Environment Committee:

        “SERVICE CHANGE:
        Revise Route 31 to provide new connections to the University District Seattle Children’s Hospital via N
        45th St. This extension of Route 31’s pathway will break the interline with Route 75. On weekdays and
        Saturday, the route will maintain its current service levels. Add service on Sunday, when Route 31 will
        operate every 30 minutes from approximately 7:30 AM until 10:00 PM.”

  4. I was initially concerned about the lost of STBD funding to the 62 given that Wallingford is also losing the 26, but I’m glad to see that those hours only fund peak hour service, so Wallingford will actually be preserving its current 15 (or better)-minute transit service and gaining more to boot with the new all-weekend service on the 31.

    I wish the north-end network could have been improved more, but all things considered after this last year, this is far better than I was fearing a year ago.

  5. It is really hard to discuss things like the 20 without resolution on the issues surrounding the Northgate Link restructure (https://publicinput.com/B1882). Assuming that goes through as planned, along with Seattle pitching in its share, there are a few themes:

    1) Rush hour one seat rides are prioritized by Metro. A lot of Metro money will go into rush hour suburban trips to various parts of downtown (South Lake Union, Westlake, First Hill). Otherwise, those riders would have to transfer(egads!).

    2) Tiny coverage rules the day in the city. The 20 serves east Green Lake. The 45 serves east Green Lake. They both end at the UW. They both have pretty good frequency, but not great (e. g. 15 minutes). Do they go on the same street, doubling up frequency? No. Are they a long distance apart? No. It is the worst of both worlds — what I call “tiny coverage”. It isn’t really coverage, since the routes are very close to each other. It isn’t focused on ridership, since they have different bus stops, and those poor frequency. It is an agency assuming that anyone who takes a bus doesn’t care how long the trip takes. Which leads me to …

    3) All this talk about “equity riders” is just that … talk. The big winner in this is, of course, the folks that live on Latona, away from 65th or 45th. They don’t have to walk far to catch a bus, nor do they have to suffer the indignation of transferring to another bus or the train (can you imagine?). They get a nice one seat ride to the UW, and Northgate. Huzzah! Meanwhile, the bartender I met in Lake City who commutes to her job at Bitter Lake will just keep taking the three buses she always takes. Because what choice does she have? Buy a car? Come on. Likewise the guy in Phinney Ridge who I haven’t met who commutes to his job in Lake City. Yeah, I know taking care of little kids doesn’t pay that much — you should have focused on something that matters, like software. Then you wouldn’t have to live in an apartment in the city, and commute to some other neighborhood 5 miles away. You could drive to a nice park and ride and get an express to your job a dozen miles away.

    4) Alex Pedersen sucks.

    1. I agree on every point, RossB. As someone without a car, weekday-only routes are not that useful (though slightly better than peak-only routes, and if we want to encourage more people to forego cars, we need to convince the city and Metro to stop prioritizing them.

      And Alex Pedersen definitely does suck. That’s probably the politest thing I could say about him.

      1. Second that. Besides home->work, weekday only routes are nearly useless. Occasionally, something comes up that has to be done on a weekday and is important enough to take off work for (e.g. jury duty, medical appointment, interview with another job, trip to the airport), but that sort of stuff is very rare. It is evenings and weekends when the spontaneous trips happen, when transit really needs to be there.

        You shouldn’t have to take off work to go somewhere via decent bus service.

      1. Pedersen fought against a bigger transit levy. As head of the transportation committee, he had more power. He wanted 0.1%. Other council members wanted 0.2%. They settled on 0.15% which is why we have these cutbacks. (He also voted against the increase to 0.15% and was the only council member to do so.)

      2. In addition to what RossB said, he’s been busy scuttling (or allowing to be scuttled) cyclist and pedestrian safety improvements to satisfy his base of SFH owners who want to keep their publicly-subsidized street parking so they can use their garages for storage.

  6. Finally, there are reductions to the STBD program that are necessary because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the bonehead decision by the mayor and the council (lead by Alex Pedersen) to propose a levy that will cause significant cutbacks

    Fixed it for you.
    #AlexPedersenSucks

  7. Can we talk about whether Route 372X will keep its shorter weekend routing? It’s not really clear.

    1. I would assume so, because I think the STBD supports it and is limited in what it can do for portions of the route that are outside of the city. Depending on your trips, that limitation might be offset by the increased frequency and connections of the 522 once it’s truncated at Roosevelt station.

  8. We should probably have a post just about the difference between the 20, 26 and 61. I would welcome such a discussion, because what has evolved is really interesting, and disappointing. The history is a bit complicated, because Metro didn’t bother to archive their old proposals (from what I can tell) and neither did the Internet Archive. But the long and short of it is that instead of having a nice, relatively frequent route connecting neighborhoods (the 61) or a coverage route (the 25) we have a relatively frequent coverage route (the 25).

    This route takes the poor performing part of the 26, and sends it to the UW, via 50th. Except for tiny section(s), it has unique coverage. My claim about a poorly performing part of the 26 is a bold statement, which I’ll now backup with ridership data. These are the boardings for an inbound 26 (headed to downtown), grouped together by area:

    420 — Northgate to 65th (exclusive)
    103 — Area within walking distance of 65th
    180 — 65th to Market (exclusive)
    169 — Area within walking distance of Market
    670 — Market to downtown (exclusive)

    By “walking distance” I mean a 5 minute walk. I call out these areas because they will offer alternatives in the future.

    Look over those numbers and consider them in context. The current 26 is essentially an old-school bus to downtown. It uses the expressway (Aurora) to quickly shuttle people from various neighborhoods to downtown. It destroys the competition in terms of speed in accomplishing that goal. At no point is the 62 even close. The 31/32 doesn’t even go downtown. You could take the 44 all the way to Link, but by the time you got to the platform at UW Station, the 26 would have transformed to the 131, having passed through downtown. The 26 really has no competition for what it does, for most of the route.

    Now it does. For riders along Market headed to downtown, it makes more sense to catch the 44 and transfer. For people along 65th you can catch the 62 or 45 to get to Link. In many cases — especially north of 45th — there are now much faster way to get downtown.

    But the key thing is that more people caught the bus south of 50th than north of it. Metro has split the 62 in half, kept the part that had fewer riders, and sent it to the UW instead of downtown. It is also worth noting that the riders south of 45th, and especially around Stone Way, had a very fast trip to downtown. So not only has this proposal thrown away most of the riders, but it has thrown away a lot of the ridership-time saved.

    To be fair, this will no longer end at Northgate. The new 20 takes over the northern tail of the 75. I don’t see this as increasing ridership along that corridor. The old 75 connected to secondary destinations like Sand Point, Children’s Hospital and the U-Village. You could ride it around to get to the UW, but unless you are in that unique section (along the low density part of Northgate Way) it wouldn’t make sense. The same is true of this new route. Along most of this corridor, riders have a faster way to the UW (via Link, the 67 or 522). What this does offer is a new one-seat ride to East Green Lake and Latona. This trade-off (Sand Point/Children’s Hospital/U-Village for East Green Lake/Latona) seems like a wash at best.

    This is a major weakness of this route. Trips between the main destinations just don’t make sense, since there are much better options. In contrast, the new 61 would be the fastest (and in most cases the only) one-seat connection between Lake City/Northgate to Greenwood/Crown Hill.

    The biggest contrast between this and the 61 though, is with two seat rides. South of Northgate (where the 61 and 20 diverge) the 20 crosses paths with the 45, the 62 and the buses around the UW. The 61 also intersects the 45, and as noted, there are better alternatives to get to the UW for all but the least densely populated part of the route. In a similar manner, riders headed for the 62 can take the 522, the 67 or Link. The doesn’t offer much in the way of unique or fast connections to connecting routes.

    In contrast, the 61 would cross every north-south bus corridor west of I-5 (the 40, D, 28, 5, and E). These are relatively fast and (with the exception of the 28) frequent buses. These also provide unique coverage to high density areas. There are no east-west buses between the 44 and 45. This means that riders at some point have to use one of the north-south buses to get to all the places in between there (e. g. Phinney Ridge). The new 20 still requires a three seat ride (with the 45 as the middle bus) to those areas. Those within walking distance of Northgate Transit Center can continue to take the 40, which spends most of its initial time going north and south before heading west. The 61 would change all that. A trip to anywhere in that middle area (e. g. 65th west of Green Lake) would be much faster. Even if you are at NTC, and miss the 40 for your trip to Ballard, you might be able to catch the 61, and head it off at the pass (so to speak).

    To top it all off, by my calculations, running the 61 to the same terminus as the 45 would be cheaper than running the 20. You wouldn’t have to move the 45 at all — just replace the 20 with the 61, running all the way across. That would be overkill, of course (you could save even more money by ending at Greenwood) but it would be a huge improvement over the proposed 20, for less money.

    This is a systems failure. There are many reasons; poor planning by Metro, poor communication between Metro and SDOT, inadequate money for the transit levy as well as some other issues. The result will be a network that isn’t much better than what we have now. We could do a lot better.

      1. Yes, I meant 45th. Oops. Every instance in that comment where I used “Market” should have been “45th”.

      2. Yeah, I for one knew what you meant, but as it was getting into the wee hours when I read your excellent comment I just let it go. Thanks for the correction, both of you.

        And thanks for including the stop data to demonstrate the productivity of the route’s southern section (lower Wallingford). I was going to do likewise to rebut some of Mike’s assertions but got sidetracked with actual work. Lol. Thanks again.

    1. It’s definitely disappointing, and almost insulting to Northgate Way and Lake City riders, that the one significant change to the Northgate area is serving Northgate Way by extending a milk-run coverage route; making it frequent just arguably overserves the rest of the route. Bringing back the 61 would be better, but something as simple as extending the 40 would probably result in more bang for the buck.

    1. That makes sense. Do you have a reference for that? The links I follow still list it as 361 (and don’t have the 20).

    1. Thanks for the link. That’s a long document! The service change info starts on page 82.

      1. Thanks for the link and the page number. They have a map on page 97. Here is another unfortunate development: it will continue to do the detour into the campus (at least one direction — likely northbound). This means a rider from Greenwood to Northgate not only has to transfer, but wait for the bus to circle around the campus.

        I really don’t get that. It makes sense for the 345/346 to do that — it would cost them practically nothing to cut the corner. But for the new 20 it is a big detour to get a little bit closer to the college. A college, by the way, that has a pedestrian bridge connecting it to the Link station. This is another example of how this really is a coverage route in nature, yet SDOT is giving it extra money.

        To be fair, the stop a half block east of Corliss is not very good. But they should just add a stop on Meridian (on both sides), along with a crosswalk, and the bus can avoid the four extra turns. Maybe SDOT didn’t want to add the bus stops. That would be a shame, since it would be a great use of capital funding, since for the cost of a couple bus stops, a bus would be able to save 2 minute of travel time each direction (as would through riders).

      2. Yeah the detour into campus always struck me as unnecessary. It’s not that big of a campus; stopping at the south edge of the property instead of right next to the building should be sufficient for most people.

        Maybe there’s some thought that they really need a bus stop right next to the DSHS office to provide better access for people with disabilities, just like they really need a bus stop at the front door of Northwest Hospital (but not so badly that they’d send both of the 345/346 pair to serve that stop frequently). If that is indeed the reason for the stop, sending the 345/346 in there would make a lot more sense. If the goal is just to serve the college in some fashion, even that isn’t necessary because the 345/346 already stop right next to the campus on the west side (and again, it isn’t that big of a campus).

        You’re right that the Corliss stop isn’t great. Perhaps adding a stop at 92nd and College Way instead of serving the college parking lot would be another idea.

      3. Why is it so hard for Metro to just focus on a fast frequent grid on arterial streets and let the riders figure out how to use it to get where they’re going. Try to enumerate individual destinations for special treatment is a great way to grow the transit modeshare from 1% to 2%, but if you’re trying to get to 20%, 30%, 50%, it just doesn’t scale. Just run the buses down the streets. No detours into parking lots. If people have trouble crossing a street, the solution is to add crosswalks, not detour the bus. It’s not that hard.

  9. I can see how some of the existing routing created the push for the 20. Without the 26, there would be a coverage hole. The hole is created by the northern detour of the 62, and the bus stop locations. For example, from 63rd and Latona, the fastest way to the UW is like so: https://goo.gl/maps/WMR8MtQYfLHqnpGu7. Notice that the closest bus stop is 7 minutes away. If there was a stop on 65th in between the two parts of Ravenna, it would cut the walking distance in half. So not only is the detour bad, so are the stops. As you move further south, the distance to the north increases until you are much better off heading west.

    Metro tried to eliminate the hole and make the bus a lot faster by going on Latona, then cutting over on 56th to Meridian. That was rejected by SDOT, as they felt the roads weren’t ready.

    I wonder if Metro tried to send the 62 on 65th instead. This would have reduced the service hole, and sped up the bus (although not as much). It wouldn’t be ideal, but if would have been an improvement, and reduced the case for the 20.

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