“Restructure” and “transfer” are hot transit words in the Pacific Northwest, with all eyes focused on Northgate Link opening October 2nd. A new Link extension comes with a significant restructure for transit services provided by Community Transit, Sound Transit, and King County Metro.

During these exciting times for regional transit, Sound Transit and Metro have begun their public-facing process of restructuring routes and creating new transfers between East Link and Redmond Link (E&R Link) when they come into service in 2023 and 2024, respectively. The very first public survey, available here, primes our communities in determining what our future transit network looks like for years to come.

As with Northgate Link, E&R Link will transform East Side bus service to be more local-focused and Link-connecting with Link’s future 2 Line providing the bulk of commuter and longer-distance service between major hubs. No less than forty (!) routes are being studied for modifications or deletion as part of E&R Link’s opening. This provides a significant opportunity for our community to rethink what better transit looks like to best service enormous growth, to be more convenient for more people, to improve speed and reliability, expand availability of frequent transit, and, of course, connect to Link. We encourage readers to take an open mind when reviewing proposed changes, rather than thinking “I’m going to lose my bus!” think about “how can transit better serve me?”

Some early highlights include breaking up Route 271, a major route connecting U District, Bellevue, then providing local service to Issaquah. New route 270 would provide a more direct routing serving Bellevue Way and, by removing roadway geometric constraints along existing Route 271, upgrade to 60’ buses to better address crowding. New routes would be created east to provide service to the remainder of the Route 271 corridors. Refocused routes include ST’s 554, which will connect Issaquah and Bellevue with a 2 Line transfer opportunity at South Bellevue Transit Center for Downtown Seattle and beyond. Routes deleted include ST’s 550 between Downtown Bellevue and Seattle, which is the core of East Link’s grade-separated upgrade to provide the ultimate connection for our region’s largest Downtowns.

Let’s also acknowledge we all feel the pain of losing one-seat rides and the bus we’re accustomed to, and the tradeoffs include to better service with a Link transfer. Many of us are losing our beloved route on October 2nd while gaining faster, more reliable, more frequent, and better-connected service; an excellent tradeoff for those wanting to use more transit beyond weekday peak-period.

Metro and Sound Transit are all ears for input and will shape the new map based on what a wide-range of people tell them. As riders, if there are things we’ve seen every day or things we want to see improvements, now is the time to start making those desires heard. STB will have additional posts covering each proposed area in more detail in the coming days.

88 Replies to “Eastside transit restructure kicks off”

  1. Crossposting from the open thread to start discussion: In addition to specific PDF’s for every existing route that’s changed or deleted, they give maps of the North Eastside, Central Eastside, South Eastside, and Far East Eastside regions. Also, there’s only one route changing in Seattle around Judkins Park: the 8. Frequencies for already-existing routes are in the individual route PDF’s; you can get there from the

    There’s a whole lot here that I really like! I like the new 8, the 222 connecting 24th St and Idylwood with Redmond, the 251 from Redmond to Woodinville, the 269 combining with the Mercer Island express, and the 270 (271 replacement) picking up Bellevue Way.

    That said, there’re a few missed opportunities here:

    * There isn’t any straight shot between Overlake and Eastgate. They should’ve swapped the 245 and 223’s routing in Lake Hills. I’m not even asking for a 148th straight-shot; I’d take a 156th+148th bus that also serves Crossroads. But I want something more direct than the 245!

    * The 240 should connect to South Bellevue (and then on into downtown) instead of Eastgate, giving people a straight shot to both Bellevue and Seattle. Perhaps the 241 can take over its proposed routing on the Lake Hills Connector?

    * They’re cutting most Eastgate-Factoria service. It’s going from the frequent 245 on 36th + Factoria Blvd to the infrequent 226 on Eastgate Way. This seems a bad choice to me, but maybe it’s dictated by ridership? Admittedly, the 245’s loop around the P&R garage was indirect.

    1. I think their intention was that the 240 would provide this connection. But, it does so at the cost of really cutting off Newcastle (and the rest of the 240 route) from the rest of the region.

      I’d send the 240 to South Bellevue, like you said, and move factoria->Eastgate to another route. I’ll have to think a bit on what this route should be; the path from Factoria- to Bellevue college should not simply disappear.

      1. One idea that could be considered is to run the 240 down 36th to 142nd, serve Eastgate only at the freeway station, and just go nonstop to south Bellevue park and ride from there. This still leaves 240 riders with a small detour, but much less than what’s proposed.

        The 226 and 203 are other routes that could be modified.

    2. Regarding Overlake to Eastgate: I agree. But I think the “detour” of the 545 likely picks up more riders. Since the 545 is more frequent, this is a reasonable choice. Here is what I would ask Metro to consider:

      1) As William suggested, make the 223 a straight shot between 24th and Bellevue College (https://goo.gl/maps/4QczsbzfcbCAcwC86).

      2) Alter the 226 (a coverage bus) to take over the eastern part of the 223. The middle of the route would look like this: https://goo.gl/maps/4QczsbzfcbCAcwC86. You leave a couple places without coverage, but in both cases it is at most a five minute walk to a bus stop.

      3) Lower the frequency of the 245 to 20 minutes, while increasing the frequency of the 223 to 20 minutes. Run the buses opposite each other, so that you have ten minute frequency on the shared sections. The 245 does look like it will pick up more riders, but not that many more riders. Given the extra distance, it might be the same number of riders per hour. The bulk of the riders will be traveling on the shared sections, which would be faster and more frequent. If you can time it, you catch the fast 223. If not, you take the slighter slower (but still relatively fast) 245. Either way you have better frequency for those trips (as well as many others).

      Speaking of which, these would not offset each other for the entire route. They would leave Bellevue College and Overlake at the same time. But after they split, they would not be ten minutes apart. Southbound this would only cause a problem for a tiny section of the route (a small section close to the college, which would also have the 226). Northbound, things would be out of sync between Main and where the 223 ends. But at NE 8th the frequent B shares the line. At the northern tail, the 222 and 223 add service. So that only leaves one small shared area (between Main and 8th) that wouldn’t have ideal frequency. This is a relatively low density area (from what I can tell).

      The bigger issue is 20 minute frequency (instead of 15) on the unique part of the 245. Giving those riders 20 minute frequency seems like a good compromise, and a small price to pay for everything else the area would get.

      I don’t think would cost any money — I think it would actually save a little.

    3. They’re cutting most Eastgate-Factoria service

      Yes. They are going from 30 minute frequency (on the 245) to 15 minute frequency (on the 240). Riders will be able to take the slower 241, but it is scheduled for 40 minute headways, which means that the buses can’t be timed. I’m guessing the problem is as you suggest, but it seems like there would be decent ridership from the college to Factoria.

      The 240 should connect to South Bellevue (and then on into downtown) instead of Eastgate

      I agree, except that would cost other problems. If you just sent the 240 to South Bellevue, then there would be no service from Factoria to Eastgate, other than the very infrequent, very indirect 241. This is one of the messier areas of this restructure. Factoria looks to be underserved in my opinion. Factoria has poor service to Eastgate (and the college) and it also has poor service to Link or downtown Bellevue. The 241 will go downtown, but be very infrequent (40 minutes midday). The 203 will end at South Bellevue. Service levels for the 203 are a mystery (until they fix the website) but I doubt they will be frequent.

      The obvious solution is to send the 241 to South Bellevue and downtown along with 203. Assuming both run every half hour, you can try and synchronize them for 15 minute frequency from Factoria to downtown (the infrequent 241 helps as well). Then keep the southern tail of the 245, for a fairly direct (and frequent) connection from Factoria to Bellevue College. The problem is, that would all cost money, and I don’t know where it would come from.

  2. I live on the portion of the 249 which is getting deleted. Instead of a long, circuitous ride to Downtown Bellevue, it’s replaced by the 222, which only goes between Downtown Redmond and Overlake.

    This is fine for me. Probably even better, since I would have a direct ride to Downtown Redmond, and there would be a way to get to Marymoor Park by bus now. The 249 used to go all the way to Downtown Redmond, and it’s nice to have that back.

    If the frequency of the 222 is improved at all over the 249, it could be a shorter trip to Downtown Bellevue. Right now, despite taking almost an hour from my house to Bellevue Transit Center, it’s still faster than transferring to the B. East Link is supposed to be more frequent than the B is now, so taking the 222 to Overlake Village and transferring to Link could be faster than riding the 249 the whole way. Actually, when I consider that Link should go from Overlake to Downtown Bellevue faster than the B, the trip should almost certainly be faster, even if the 222 does not have improved frequency over the 249.

    Going to Seattle, there will two advantages for me. First, riding a train is more pleasant than an express bus, especially when you’re standing, as I frequently was on the 545 before Covid. Second, the walking distance between the bus stop will be much shorter (although part of that long walk is a temporary consequence of station construction). Should be a slightly faster trip.

    Thinking about the Eastside in general, rather than just myself…

    The B and the 245 are changing their routing around Overlake. Now the 245 is skipping Redmond Tech Station entirely (!) in favor of Overlake Park and Ride and Overlake Village Station. And the B is skipping Overlake Park and Ride. I think this is good for the B, not so good for the 245 – they should rather both skip Overlake Village, and go to Redmond Tech Station.

    Having the new 270 enter 520 at an earlier point is good, as it can then stop at Evergreen Point Station. Somehow, the 249 is getting even more convoluted though. (Glad I don’t have to ride that anymore!) Getting between Eastgate and Factoria looks like it could be harder than it should be.

    Overall, this looks really good.

    1. Interesting, I had the opposite reaction re: 245. Overlake Village is an all-day destination (or at least it will be), whereas Microsoft (RTC) is a peak-oriented terminus. Makes much more sense for all-day routes to connect to link at Overlake. At least there will be some place to grab a coffee while you wait for your connecting train.

      1. Overlake Village is an all-day destination (or at least it will be)
        I’d say it’s still very much in the “might be, someday” classification. That area has been built out recently. I thought there was going to be more than just apartments on the old Group Health site but that plan seems to have changed. Hopefully Redmond has given up on the slip ramp idea to add yet another freeway access point.

        Still, I think switching to 148th offers a lot more potential ridership than 156th. It’s all apartments on the west and offices (mostly not M$FT) to the east. There’s also the Senior Center. The jog over to 156th uses the best route possible and then serves more high transit use stops. I see it’s got the 140th/145th route I’d proposed for an Overlake to Eastgate bus. I really don’t see any reason for a P&R to P&R express to be added.

        And they’ve docked the tail at the southern end. Strange they’d do this instead of eliminating the south tail of the 249. There’s actually quite a lot on that tail but traffic is painfully slow. Wait, I know; let’s add it to the 249 ;-)

        That last sentence was meant to be a snarky remark but I’m thinking, instead of pushing everything on the 249 the southern tail of the 245 combined with the southern tail of the 249 could be a separate route. Not a great route but it does connect people to Factoria/Eastgate/S Bell P&R and BTC. Google says 7 minutes Eastgate to S Bell P&R. Obviously that could be worse at peak but not too bad. It would be another P&R to Link Connection.

      2. Overlake Village (the Safeway/Sears/Fred Meyer area) is one of the biggest all-day destinations in Bellevue and has been since I was a kid. It’s like a second downtown for eastern Bellevue. It’s the best place for Link-bus connections.

      3. Overlake Village (the Safeway/Sears/Fred Meyer area) is one of the biggest all-day destinations in Bellevue
        @Mike, things have changed. Sears went out of business. The area is still packed with cars and I do see people walking from north of 520 to get to Fred Meyer and the ethnic markets in that complex. But the area isn’t Capital Hill. Bellevue’s second DT would be Crossroads or arguably Factoria. But I’d put Factoria more as Renton’s second DT.

      4. I know Sears is gone but I don’t know what will take its place. It may be a one-story car area but it has a diversity of businesses that people go to, and it’s right in the middle between Crossroads, east Bellevue, the Spring District, and Redmond. It’s on the way.

      5. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the comment that Factoria is “Renton’s second downtown”. It’s just too far away, and we’ll outside the city limits.

        Renton has one “downtown” area, and it could use some serious development. ( hope the sewer replacement project under construction right now might facilitate that.)

        “ The City of Renton is currently designing improvements for water, sewer and stormwater utilities in the core of downtown Renton. Improvements will address current and support future development needs within the downtown core”

        https://www.rentonwa.gov/city_hall/public_works/utility_systems/utility_projects/downtown_utility_improvement_project/d_u_i_p_background

      6. “But the area isn’t Capital Hill”

        It’s large in an Eastside suburban context. We need to adequately serve the suburbs.

        .”Bellevue’s second DT would be Crossroads”

        Crossroads is another contender, but the Link station is at Overlake. Crossroads and Overlake are so close to each other that they’re practically the same urban village like Ballard-Fremont, and they’ll merge further as they grow. Crossroads has small stores but Overlake has the big stores.

        “or arguably Factoria. But I’d put Factoria more as Renton’s second DT.”

        Factoria is an urban growth center but it hasn’t taken off yet. It’s too far north of Renton to be relevant to it. Factoria’s periphery is is Eastgate, Newport Hills, and Somerset.

      7. The Overlake Sears is slated to be all tall mixed use. Don’t know the timeline but I’m thinking in the next year they break ground since there has been no effort to least the space that exists even for seasonal stores. Fred Meyer is the only big box store left in Overlake. Target and Home Depot are in Wilburton. Walmart is in Factoria along with a larger Target and several other large stores.

      8. I see what you’re saying about Microsoft being a peak-only destination. The problem is, Overlake Village is not currently a destination at all. I am not sure it ever will be. Sending buses there at this point seems rather aspirational.

        There are a bunch of strip malls south of there (Fred Meyer, Safeway, et cetera), but to me that doesn’t seem part of the same area. Are people really expected to walk from the Overlake Village Link station all the way to Fred Meyer? The pedestrian experience there (I know it extremely well; it’s the nearest shopping to where I live) is terrible. I have a hard time imagining the situation improving.

        It would have been nice if East Link went to Crossroads before going to Microsoft. Then the new Overlake Village station could be on 156th, right between Crossroads and Microsoft. Alas.

        Anyway, I can quibble with the planned route changes, but they really look great overall.

      9. “Are people really expected to walk from the Overlake Village Link station all the way to Fred Meyer?”

        In a nutshell, yes. It’s not that far, and it is impossible to imagine any reasonable bus network where a bus transfer would get you there faster than walking, by the time you amount for wait time.

        That said, this trip isn’t as common as one may think. Most routine grocery shopping can be done at other stores, closer to home. And stuff you can’t get from a store you can walk to, you can just order off Amazon.

        But, really, we’re talking about a distance of less than half a mile here, and if you’re unwilling to walk that far, transit is probably nearly useless to you anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

        Without NYC level density, it is simply not possible to design a transit that caters to people unwilling to walk 1/2 mile because trips are too scattered. While it is always possible to design a system that prioritizes access to a specific destination for people unwilling to walk, it comes at the expense of making it harder and slower to reach other parts of the city, and flat out doesn’t scale. When you’re living car free, you don’t want to be constrained by a bus network that is only good for getting you to a few specific destinations that some beurocrat decides are important, and be stuck having to call for an Uber to go anywhere else. A system designed around general mobility, throughout the city, is much more useful, even if it means having to walk a bit further.

      10. I think we can all agree that (a) Overlake Village has some work to do and (b) shoving the station up against the freeway really borked the walkshed for future development.

        But the original question is “at which Link station should 245 riders transfer?” and I think Overlake Village beats Redmond Tech. it’s also one stop closer to their eventual destination, which is more likely to be DT Bellevue or DT Seattle.

      11. Factoria is an urban growth center but it hasn’t taken off yet. It’s too far north of Renton to be relevant to it. Factoria’s periphery is is Eastgate, Newport Hills, and Somerset.

        .
        OK, that’s fair. But Factoria is isolated from the rest of Bellevue by 405 & 90. Geographically it’s in a hole. NE of 90/405 is a huge hill. Somerset is a huge hill. Richards Rd is the only non-freeway access from the N and Factoria’s traffic is a nightmare. I’d note that Newcastle contracts with both Bellevue and Renton for services like schools and police. Factoria is a no mans land that Bellevue annexed for tax revenue. It’s amazing that so many big box stores are there when it’s so hard to access. But, build a Walmart and they will come. And it does have a lot of employment (T-Mobile) but it’s all drive and fight the traffic to free parking. It’s sort of the opposite of Crossroads which is connected to DT Bellevue.

      12. The entire Spring District and Overlake area is a hotbed of redevelopment. There are multiple projects fully-financed that are underway — so it’s not a pipe dream to happen “someday”; it’s underway. By Line 2 opening day in 2023, there will be many new redeveloped sites covering dozens of blocks containing multi-story buildings open or almost open.

      13. The entire Spring District and Overlake area is a hotbed of redevelopment.
        The entire Spring District isn’t a hotbed of activity. Only the far western portion, not even to 124th is being developed. There are no plans for the 130th P&R station area. But landlords are refusing to grant leases longer than 1-3 years which is causing businesses to move out and leave storefronts vacant. East of 130th to the “Arts District” Spring Blvd doesn’t exist and wont for many years. Bellevue has lots of other projects ahead of it in the budget.

        Microsoft is the big developer around Overlake. The old Group Health site appears to have been covered with apartments; not the mixed use that had been planned. It’s pretty dead given the high density. I don’t know when the Sear teardown is going to happen. It seems to be mired in red tape. West of there a lot of new apartments have been built but it’s all residential rather than mixed use and appears oriented to people the means and intent to drive everywhere unless they are commuting to DT Bellevue or Seattle and don’t get free parking with their job.

        So, the small patch of development in the Spring District will have increased transit demand, mostly from employees commuting to work. Pretty much the same in Overlake with Microsoft workers.

      14. I think the challenge is serving Factoria is its geography. It makes sense to connect it to Eastlake and Bellevue College. The former because of express service along I-90, the latter because it is a big destination. At the same time, you want to connect it to Link and maybe downtown Bellevue. There isn’t a good way to do all that with one route.

        Making matters worse, south of Factoria the density drops very quickly. It is really hard to justify 15 minute service to Newcastle. I think the best option is to connect Factoria to Eastgate with the tail of a route that also serves the college (which is what Metro does now). Then you can combine a bus like the 240 with a bus coming from the east (like the 203) for 15 minute service to South Bellevue. I’m sure if Metro had the money, they would this.

        In contrast, Overlake is in between Redmond and Bellevue College/Eastlake. It is also in between downtown Bellevue and Redmond. That is why it is part of both a RapidRide line and Link. This in turn adds additional buses. This level of convenience (by merely being “on the way”) adds people to the shops, which in turn makes it more of a destination.

      15. Bellevue College to Eastgate P&R then cross I-90 and parallel the freeway on 36th picks up T-Mobile and a Kieser health. Then if possible cut over to 124th (SE 38th is hard/impossible for a bus to make a RT) to avoid what is often gridlock on Factoria Blvd. You pick up a couple more apartments and there is layover space at Newport HS if that’s important. Then freeway from Coal Crk to BTC. The tail beyond Bellevue College could go Issaquah or Overlake.

        FWIW google puts drive times w/o traffic as 4-8 minutes from Factoria Mall to Renton City Hall and 9-10 minutes to Bellevue City Hall. None of the Bellevue routes go south to Coal Crk. One takes 90 to Bellevue Way, The other two use Richards road to the Connector which is more reliable from a traffic perspective and all along there are apartments/condos instead of swamp and a cliff. A bus from Eastgate or BTC could make a clockwise loop at the Mall if the route used Richards Rd and avoid 405 gridlock.

      16. Quite a lot of residential development is planned and happening near the Bel-Red/130th Station. Looking over the units per project within a couple minute walk of the station: 176, 80, 172, 250, 31, 298, 39, 249, and a 7 story multifamily on the SE corner of 130th and Northup. Unsure of the number of units. There’s also Vicino at 128th and Northup with 402 units. In my opinion, most of the area from 130th to 140th, between Northup and Bel-Red Rd, will be unrecognizable in 5 to 10 years. What’s going on now is just the start of a major transformation.

      17. Vicino is going up now but won’t open until 2023. If you go to Google street view and click on the date you can select 2021 from the timeline and see the construction site.

        I doubt Bellevue will finish the street improvements on 130th until after they complete 124th and more of Spring Blvd. Cadman isn’t going to vacate their cement plant with all the ongoing construction. Bellevue Brewing is hoping to open a high end pub in the Spring District in 2023 but plans to keep the 130th location. That area won’t change much in the next 5 years. 10 years maybe but east of 130th will take longer for the city to acquire property and connect the two ends of Spring Blvd. Look on KC Parcel Viewer and you’ll see there aren’t any large sites until you get to the Safeway on 140th.

        It’s unfortunate the routing through the Arts District makes it darn near impossible to add a station at 20th.

      18. I don’t think that Cadman makes it to the end of the decade. Someone will come along with an offer that’s too good to pass up. A gravel pit next to a light rail station where big tech is expanding to? Cadman is on the clock.

      19. I don’t think Cadman has used that location as a gravel pit for decades. It’s a mix plant and equipment storage yard. I’m sure there will be some enviromental remediation. OTOH half the excavation for a parking garage is already done. Construction staging in the Spring District is already a challenge. I expect either the remaining Safeway or Coke-a-Cola parcels will be the next big thing. But Wright Rundstad has development plans lined up in the Spring District proper through the end of the decade.

        Wilburton will pop before the land east of 130th. It’s got huge parcels left over from when it was Auto Row and it’s book ended by South Bellevue and Wilburton Light rail stations. The City has plans for higher density there than the current Spring District development.

      20. Agreed about Wilburton. I’m sure Amazon will redevelop the Whole Foods site. The parcel just north of there, the Design Center, is now too valuable to be just a strip mall. South of NE 8th … That whole Burger King, Total Wine area is another great location for future growth.

    2. I think having the 245 and B line do different things is fine; gives people the flexibility to choose the route that gets them a little closer to where they’re ultimately going.

      1. Exactly, and the regular routes coverage should be such that RR-B can actually be rapid. Like staying on 156th should speed things up. RR-B is primarilly for people in Crossroads to get to/from work and do errands. It connects this area of relatively high transit use to DT Bellevue, Microsoft and DT Redmond. It also give DT Redmond techies a nice ride to M$FT until Link starts to do the heavy lifting.

  3. I think the most impressive part has to be the replacement of the 208 with the 215. The 208 is one of the least frequent routes in the entire system, with around 2-hour headways, and the proposal increases it all the way to half-hourly service while also extending it to Mercer Island for direct transfers to Link. I didn’t see that coming, and I hope some version of that sticks around to the final plan!

    1. Where did it say the 215 would run every 30 minutes. I couldn’t find anything in the restructure page that listed frequency at all, or even which routes would run on weekends at all.

      That said, from a network perspective, I don’t think running a bus out to North Bend every 30 minutes is the best use of resources (the exception being weekend service on the Trailhead Direct Mt. Si Route); it’s great for people that lives in North Bend, but won’t get much ridership and will result in less service on other routes. I think a more realistic expectation is that the 215 runs every 30 minutes to Mercer Island, as shown, only during peak hours, with midday service running hourly and truncated to Issaquah Highlands P&R with a forced transfer to the 554, and no evening service at all.

      For weekends, I think the 215 needs to somehow find a way to use the same buses and driver as the Trailhead Direct routes that are already going out to North Bend, anyway. Perhaps, buses could run the faster TD route eastbound mornings, westbound afternoons and the slower 215 route the reverse direction. It feels very wasteful to have to send out a whole separate bus out there for the regular service. The savings from combining the routes could perhaps fund an increase in the season span of Trailhead Direct service (e.g. could the Mt. Si route run year-round, at least on Saturdays, excluding snow events?)

      1. I don’t think running a bus out to North Bend every 30 minutes is the best use of resources

        If you think of the route as being from Mercer Island to North Bend it is overkill. If you think of it as simply an extension of the bus to Issaquah, it isn’t that bad. The 215 and 269 run opposite each other to provide 15 minute service to Issaquah. Both have tails that extend further. Truncating the 215 in Issaquah half the time wouldn’t save that much money (since you would only be truncating a bus every hour) while leaving North Bend with the same crap transit options they have now. This beats the hell out of microtransit (a more expensive, yet logical next step if not for this route).

        Oh, and it turns out the 208 actually gets better ridership per hour off-peak instead of during peak (go figure).

      2. When I was looking at the 2019 service report I was floored by the subside some of the Trail Head Direct routes were receiving. Some not too bad but others were +$60 a ride. If you’re in an urban area and want a ride to the trails form a club. Call it something like “Mountaineers” and arrange your own transport.

      3. I was envisioning the “right size” all-day express service to Issaquah to consist of only the 554, but with the all-day 554 upgraded to run every 15 minutes instead of 30 (and serve local stops within Issaquah), supplemented by additional metro routes during peak hours providing a more direct connection to Link for Issaquah Highlands and Sammamish (e.g. the 269 as proposed). I could see the definition of “peak” here being fairly generous here, perhaps 6-10 AM, 2-7 PM, rather than a more stingy 6-9 AM, 4-6 PM. During off-peak hours, the Sammamish bus would connect to Link only in Redmond.

        Another note about the 269. The urbanist claims that in exchange for running to Mercer Island all day on weekdays, the 269 would lose all Saturday service, leaving Sammamish with absolutely nothing. If this is accurate (the survey page doesn’t say which hours of the day each route would actually run), I think it’s a mistake. Sammamish has enough people now that it ought to get at least basic lifeline service 7 days/week, even if weekend service is just hourly. The 269 is not like the 249, where you can just walk 10-15 minutes to another bus. The 269 is literally the only public transportation around at all for miles, and if it’s not running, there’s pretty much nothing to fall back on. I don’t think the direct connection midday is worth it if it means the bus stops running completely at 7 PM and doesn’t run at all Saturday or Sunday. I would rather trade a truncation at Issaquah (still have the direct Link connection at SE Redmond) in exchange for a better span of service.

      4. I can see how you would view half hour service to North Bend as overkill, but I think increasing frequency to Avondale seems like a bigger deal. This extension — including the detour to Bear Creek Park and Ride — will happen an additional two times an hour. If you truncate the 215 half the time you save one bus an hour. It is also possible that they do plan on truncating half the 215 buses, it just isn’t reflected in the literature.

        Trail Direct is really a different beast. I’m sure it will change significantly when East Link is here.

    2. I couldn’t find the frequencies either at first, but if you click the route checkboxes in each section and then click on each route’s header, it goes to a PDF with a map and frequency grid.

      I was surprised at the 30-minute service too, but it has to get better than the atrocious barely-existent service it has now. And it supports the concept of reorienting Metro as feeders to Link.

      My main concern in the Issaquah area is whether there’s an adequate connection between the Issaquah Highlands and central Issaquah. I wavered whether to add local Issaquah stops to the 554, but ultimately said no and hoped the other routes would fill in the gap sufficiently.

      1. Which is why I’m advocating for a Issaquah-Renton route. It’s not just about connecting the two cities, but improving coverage in each.

      2. Interesting. I actually said “yes” to adding local Issaquah stops to the 554. Basically, it comes down to the following:
        1) Issaquah does not have enough ridership to support more than one all-day route, so the one route that does serve it needs to serve the local stops.
        2) Most of the stops will go unused most of the time anyway, so serving them adds very little to the bus’s running time.

        As an example, I have used the 554 many times to hike Tiger Mountain (even when trailhead direct is running, the 554 is usually faster because it avoids the long loop around Squak Mountain). If the 554 served local stops, I might be inclined to stop at some restaurants in Issaquah on the way back. Because it doesn’t, I almost never do.

  4. What I find interesting is the 554 will serve S. Bellevue, not Mercer Island. According to The Urbanist the three routes truncating at Mercer Island combined could provide up to five minute headways.

    But that is the “limited” bus intercept configuration (12 peak buses/hour) Mercer Island has always agreed to, when Metro (based on ST’s ridership estimates on East Link ) claimed it needed 16 buses per peak hour (improved configuration) or 20 buses/peak hour (optimal configuration).

    As I have noted before, the litigation between ST — based on ST’s inflated ridership projections — is moot except for the issue of bus layovers.

    If Issaquah demands an express bus to downtown Seattle after East Link opens like Lake City got — especially for commuters headed to SLU — that will further reduce the number of peak buses truncating on MI.

    Although ST can make up ridership estimates and farebox recovery to sell levies and East Link, Metro does not have that luxury. Metro can’t afford to schedule and run buses where the riders ain’t (the definition of East King Co. in some ways). This restructure, IMO, is the first reevaluation of East Link post pandemic, although it is still premature.

    Although this article extols adding transfers to commuter trips on the Eastside to improve non-peak trips, and appears to assume the Eastside restructure begins Oct. 2, 2021, East Link was all about peak hour commutes to downtown Seattle. Redirecting the 554 to S. Bellevue tells me Metro at least expects more of those commuters to work in Bellevue rather than Seattle, if they don’t work from home. Routing feeder buses from Renton and areas south of I-90 to Mercer Island tells me Metro at least does not see the cross lake ridership East Link was predicated on.

    Who could have predicted the shift between Seattle and Bellevue for Eastside workers and a pandemic and WFH in 2008.

    Transit service may improve for non-peak Eastside riders with truncation, although I doubt it based on available revenue for Metro, but the fact is there are not nearly the non-peak riders on the Eastside to justify East Link, or to meet the farebox recovery goal without the peak hour commuters.

    In the end, Metro’s restructure doesn’t come close to ST’s estimated ridership of 43,000 to 52,000 on East Link by 2026.

    1. The 554’s routing replaces local stops on Bellevue Way after the 550 goes away. And it makes sense for an all-day express between Issaaquah and downtown Bellevue in addition to South Bellevue. The distance from South Bellevue to downtown Seattle is long enough to justify transferring, especially with a lake in between. The distance from South Bellevue to Bellevue is so short that it would be a case of “so near and yet so far”. Plus people use the stops at NE 4th and Main Street and others. Sometimes half the 550 riders get on at NE 4th (the Bellevue Square stop).

      1. Agree – there’s really two separate routes here. The 554 serving Eastgate & Issaquah, which wants a strong transfer to a Link station, and the stub of the 550 on Bellevue Way. Both corridors merit decent all day service, so it’s reasonable to have 554 pick up the Bellevue Way stops if KCM doesn’t have another route that serves that segment of Bellevue Way well. Bus stops on Bellevue Way at 16th or 6th, for example, are clearly outside the walkshed of either Bellevue TC and S Bellevue station.

        My only concern is S Bellevue has excellent layover space while the Bellevue Way corridor gets super congested during peak (way more than the I90 HOV lanes or local streets in Issaquah). As an Issaquah rider, I’d selfishly prefer to the 554 to simply truncate at S Bellevue; the forced transfer to downtown Bellevue is more than offset by better reliability, IMO.

        Will 203 serve Bellevue Way? I can’t find a map of the proposed 202 and 203 routes. In the “transfer” section, I see the 202 is on 112th at East Main station and serves Bellevue TC, while the 203 is on Bellevue Way at S Bellevue station, so I’m rather confused on how those two routes will serve the Bellevue-Issaquah leg of the 271.

      2. Will 203 serve Bellevue Way? I can’t find a map of the proposed 202 and 203 routes.

        That part of the web site is still broken — there are no pages for the 202 and 203. However, you can see it on the big Central Map (https://oohsteastlinkconnect.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/maps/central/CentralProposedFIN.pdf).

        Based on the map, the following buses serve South Bellevue Station:

        111, 203, 226, 249 — End at South Bellevue Station.
        241 — Serves the station and continues to downtown Bellevue via 108th.
        554 — Serves the station and continues to downtown Bellevue via Bellevue Way.

        So only the 554 serves Bellevue Way.

        This actually violates the principal Mike mentioned. Factoria is closer to downtown Bellevue than Eastgate, but on half their buses, they have to transfer. Issaquah, of course, is very far away. Choosing it as the route to send down Bellevue Way (and to downtown Bellevue) seems odd only if you ignore the agency doing it. I’m sure ST really wants that route, and Metro just followed suit.

        My guess is ST (and Metro for that matter) is really hoping that students don’t mind walking from the Eastgate freeway stop to the college. I would think that there would be a frequent connection between the college itself and a Link station (via the freeway) but there isn’t one at all.

      3. I’m excited about the 203; will be nice to have service on all of Newport Way in Issaquah. That matches well with Issaquah’s mobility plans, and there are/will be several new apartment buildings along that corridor that should provide some ridership that wouldn’t have been there if the 203 was running in 2018. Same with my comment on 554; by having the 203 truncate at S Bellevue Way rather that continue to DT Bellevue, that should make for a much more reliable route during rush hour.

        Yes, expectation is college students can just walk up the hill. It’s a shorter walk than accessing UW Seattle from either Link station?

        If you are going east/west, there simply isn’t a good way to serve the college directly without a major detour – even the 202 won’t enter the college directly. I think it’s better for Link-College trips to have the very high frequency that comes from the multiple routes serving Eastgate TC (either the freeway stop or the TC on local streets), rather than a route that serve the college directly but would be far less frequent given the need to detour.

      4. I think there will be another local KCM route that runs on Factoria Blvd to Eastgate TC to give Factoria a 1-seat ride to Bellevue College? It’s just not highlighted on the “Central Subarea” map because that route doesn’t interact with a Link station.

        But I don’t mind Factoria not having a 1-seat ride to DT Bellevue. Bellevue Way and 112th are effectively freeway on-ramps for several hours a day; the overall system is much better served by requiring (nearly) all riders to use the Link rather that sacrifice a ton of service hours to facilitate a 1-seat ride. I think for good reason the 2040 plan has Factoria’s Rapid Ride going to Eastgate to connect to RR-K, rather than going to DT Bellevue.

      5. “Yes, expectation is college students can just walk up the hill”

        The freeway station is already “up the hill” so the walk to the college is actually almost flat. Yes, students can and should be able to walk it.

      6. If you are going east/west, there simply isn’t a good way to serve the college directly without a major detour

        Unless you use the freeway. The 554, for example, could simply turn left after exiting at the Eastgate freeway stop, and head towards the college. For example, I would do some of the changes I mentioned above, but have ST take over part of it:

        1) Make the 223 a straight shot between 24th and Bellevue College (https://goo.gl/maps/4QczsbzfcbCAcwC86).
        2) Alter the 226 (a coverage bus) to take over the eastern part of the 223. The middle of the route would look like this: https://goo.gl/maps/4QczsbzfcbCAcwC86. You leave a couple places without coverage, but in both cases it is at most a five minute walk to a bus stop.
        3) Now have the 554 turn left, and replace the 223. This would run every 15 minutes (and roughly cost as much as the proposed 554).
        4) Metro would use the savings (that comes from ST taking over its route) to extend the 245 to Factoria.
        5) The 240 truncates at South Bellevue, and runs opposite the 203 (for 15 minute frequency between Factoria and Link).

        This does several things:

        1) The Overlake/BCC/Eastgate corridor gets extremely good frequency (7.5 minutes) along with a much faster connection.
        2) BCC gets frequent service to Link and downtown Bellevue.
        3) Factoria gets frequent service to Link.

        The negative is:

        1) Issaquah riders have to transfer to get to downtown Bellevue.

        None of this will happen, of course. This is another case of agency overlap. There is no way that Metro would run a bus like the 554 as often as proposed (along with the other buses). That is overkill for Issaquah, and rather inefficient. But there is no way that ST would run a bus like the one I just suggested. ST wants to keep many of the same bus stops while creating a route remarkably like the future light rail line.

        The 550 elegantly complements the rest of Metro’s routes. It replaces a route that Metro would run (more or less). The new 554 does not. Metro will be running just as many buses from Issaquah to Eastgate to Link — just to a different station.

      7. But I don’t mind Factoria not having a 1-seat ride to DT Bellevue.

        But why should Issaquah get a one seat ride to downtown Bellevue, instead of Factoria?

    2. “If Issaquah demands an express bus to downtown Seattle after East Link opens like Lake City got — especially for commuters headed to SLU”

      We’ll see what the second proposal is. Maybe Issaquah will demand in droves a one-seat ride to downtown Seattle; it could go either way. And even if Issaquah demands it, would ST do it? ST is not Metro; it’s Metro that has been preserving one-seat rides to downtown/SLU. And the additional service hours would come out of other ST Express service, probably in making the 554 less frequent. One of most people’s goals for Issaquah was to increase the 554’s off-peak frequency, which is pretty substandard. It makes it hard to get to Issaquah or to live there without a car.

      “ST can make up ridership estimates and farebox recovery to sell levies and East Link”

      The ridership estimates were a technical requirement for the EIS. Most voters don’t have a concept of what 10,000 riders here or 10,000 riders there means, or what number justifies light rail bonds. The city/county leaders know that East Link is justified with today’s population level or even 1970s’ population level. The Everett and Tacoma extensions are more controversial and doubtful, but East Link is justified by the current size of the Eastside and number of businesses there. The region chose East Link because it thought it would be a good thing, not because the ridership projections reached some mathematical threshold. People need a way to bypass road congestion caused by SOVs, and more frequent-full time transit between urban centers (which is the core of many one-seat and two-seat trips), and faster and more reliable transit, that’s more competitive with driving. Those are all the reasons for East Link. And while it may lose some one-seat rides like Issaquah to downtown Seattle, those are a minority of people traveling from Issaquah.

    3. “East Link was all about peak hour commutes to downtown Seattle. ”

      Saying a false claim repeatedly doesn’t make it true. East Link is about commuters to downtown Seattle, downtown Bellevue, Microsoft, and downtown Redmond. It’s about commuters to the emerging Spring District. It’s about having all-day trunk transit that other cities like New York, London, Vancouver, San Francisco, Toronto, Chicago, and Boston find indespensible and couldn’t live without, that greatly improves overall transit mobility in their metros. it’s about a transit alternative that bypasses highway congestion, not just to downtown Seattle, but to everywhere in its service area. It’s about making it more likely that people will take transit, even if you can’t control whether they do or don’t. It’s about increasing our climate resilience.

    4. “Bellevue tells me Metro at least expects more of those commuters to work in Bellevue rather than Seattle”

      Bellevue’s goal has always been having more workers in Bellevue. That enlarges its tax base. It’s not zero-sum between Bellevue and Seattle: both of them will grow after the pandemic distortions end. Population and jobs continue to grow in the region at a rapid pace, and some of it will be in Seattle and some in the Eastside. The increase is so robust that even if some companies vacate offices in Seattle for the Eastside, other companies will take their place.

    5. “Metro’s restructure doesn’t come close to ST’s estimated ridership of 43,000 to 52,000 on East Link by 2026.”

      Metro’s restructure is limited by its available service hours. It’s a revenue-neutral restructure, so adding hours on one route requires subtracting them on another. The restructure is about serving the most people, the widest cross-section of society, and equity-emphasis areas with a fixed number of hours. You’ll know when hours increase when the economy is booming, a Metro levy passes, or an Eastside city creates a transit benefit district. Those occur at arbitrary and unpredictable times; Link restructures can’t be timed to them.

      Metro has a list of underserved corridors where it wants to increase service but doesn’t have the hours to. Metro’s long-range plan (Metro Connects) reflects this: it fills in all that underservice as Metro sees it. It was priced to do that. There has been no countywide Metro levy or TBD increase since 2016, and the economy is not booming, so that’s why it hasn’t happened yet.

      If peak ridership continues to be lower than 2019 medium-term, the ridership curve and service curve will shift toward off-peak and flatten. That’s good all around. Peak service is the most expensive to provide, for the same reason an electric utility’s baseline service 80% of the time is cheaper than its 20% peaks during heat waves and cold snaps. If there weren’t semi-daily traffic peaks, we wouldn’t need as many road lanes and transit would be cheaper to operate. The 15X and 218 exist, partly to avoid overcrowding, and partly because the D and 554’s speed drops by half in peak congestion, so they’re compensating for the difference between off-peak and peak travel time. If peak-hour spikes vanish, those problems would go away too.

      1. Ridership on the 550 pre-pandemic declined 33%, and on the 554 declined 17%. No one really knows why. Current bus ridership on the Eastside is down dramatically due to the loss of the commuter rider, including express buses to Seattle.

        Of course Metro’s coverage and frequency on the Eastside is constrained by its budget. First/last mile access, that always depends on farebox recovery, has always been the big question for East Link, and serving an area as large as East King Co. with very low housing density and a natural preference for driving if transfers are added to trips. Voters didn’t think East Link would begin with a bus ride.

        The only real density on the Eastside are job centers, and of course downtown Seattle across the lake. If “regional leaders” spent $5.5 billion on East Link (and another $4.5 billion for Issaquah Link) to add a transfer for a commute among Eastside cities and to make the few non-peak Eastside riders have a more convenient transit trip they are stupider than I originally thought.

        East Link barely made economic sense with estimated ridership of 52,000. At closer to 25,000 boardings/day it makes no sense, and both Metro and ST will need to deal with half the estimated ridership and farebox recovery.

        That is why I think ST should fund express buses to Seattle. If Issaquah and Bellevue demand express buses to Seattle ST will run them, because Metro won’t have the funds. ST doesn’t need to try and manufacturer ridership on East Link to even come close to its estimates in ST 2. Those estimates are history, and were always inflated.

        The Eastside subarea has the money for express buses.

        Just like the honesty of ST’s project cost estimates is revealed when a RFP goes out for bids (because the EIS is always manipulated) actual ridership reveals the honesty of farebox recovery estimates used to sell levies and validate EIS’s.

        Transit always comes down to revenue. I think a Metro levy for the Eastside or TBD is highly unlikely if ridership is so depressed, and ST’s estimates for just about everything so flawed. Even suggesting a levy admits the dishonest estimates in ST 2.

        So first/last mike access on the Eastside will depend on ridership, which will never come close to ST’s estimates. Metro’s restructure recognizes this, and Mercer Island is beginning to understand this in its litigation with ST, and every subarea other than N King now realizes this when they were required to pay half of DSTT2.

        Unless you are planning on another “realignment” to make up for ST’s operational deficits.

      2. “Ridership on the 550 pre-pandemic declined 33%, and on the 554 declined 17%. No one really knows why.”

        Everybody knows why the 550 declined. It lost (A) the fast downtown tunnel, (B) the South Bellevue P&R, (C) the Rainier freeway station, and I think it lost something else I don’t remember offhand. The pandemic and teleworking is the rest.

        “Current bus ridership on the Eastside is down dramatically due to the loss of the commuter rider, including express buses to Seattle.”

        No duh. An infectious disease is at large, one that’s fulling up hospitals even with all the telework and masks and vaccines we’re doing. The Eastside has a dispropprtionate number of tech workers, which are the ones who are disproportionately teleworking. And the Eastside is an affluent car-happy place where ridership was always lower than Seattle and South King, where people are affluent so it doesn’t take much to get them off transit.

        “Voters didn’t think East Link would begin with a bus ride.”

        They should have paid attention. Link stations are guaranteed only at urban growth centers and on the way between them. Everyone else would have to take a bus connector. That’s what people in subway cities do.

        “to make the few non-peak Eastside riders have a more convenient transit trip they are stupider than I originally thought.”

        A lot of people ride transit off-peak. They just aren’t concentrated in a few corridors and times so they’re less noticeable. Three-quarters of people’s non-work trips are non-work-related, and if transit were more frequent they’d use it for more of those trips, as people in Canada do. For non 9-5 workers, their work trips are off-peak too.

        “East Link barely made economic sense with estimated ridership of 52,000. At closer to 25,000 boardings/day it makes no sense,”

        That’s one person’s opinion.

        “both Metro and ST will need to deal with half the estimated ridership and farebox recovery.”

        They always do. Metro handles it by downsizing routes and runs and using short buses. Link’s fares have been more stable than buses, so ST seems less dependent on ridership fluctuations, as it has more resources per vehicle. And a 50% ridership rate is pessimistic. It will probably recover to 75% or 80% across the whole day. People who telework might do more non-work trips, and at off-peak times. If peak ridership is permanently slashed, both Link and buses can stop running extra peak frequency: problem solved.

      3. And the regional population is increasing. Even if newcomers use transit at the same rate as existing residents, ridership will increase. And as far as we know, the population will continue increasing for decades, unless a big earthquake devastates the area.

  5. Bjork: the fourth paragraph is odd. The current pathway does not require Route 271 to use standard 40-foot coaches. Articulated buses handle turns better than standards.

  6. The Urbanist review has some errors.
    Note that routes 8 and 48 are four blocks apart; that is close spacing.
    It omits that Route 342 would become two-way.
    Shifting Route 240 from 112th Avenue SE is not to avoid the Link station; a point of the restructure is connectivity with Link.
    Route 203 would cover current Route 240 pathway, not that of the Route 271.
    Route 630 is an odd duck; many trips require two transfers; if the network is frequent and waits short, that is acceptable.

    1. Where are the maps for the proposed 203 and 202? I couldn’t find them in the survey, they aren’t highlighted within either the 271 or 240 maps.

  7. Thompson: “Ridership on the 550 pre-pandemic declined 33%, and on the 554 declined 17%. No one really knows why. Current bus ridership on the Eastside is down dramatically due to the loss of the commuter rider, including express buses to Seattle”.
    The pandemic explains the ridership decline since early 2020; folks were told to stay home; they did not want to get sick. There are hypothesis to explain any ridership declines between 2018 and 2019: lower gas prices, slower transit as East Link took the center roadway and the D-2 roadway, slower transit in downtown Seattle, as the county sold Convention Place Station to the Washington State Convention Center and ended bus use prematurely. ST cut trips on Route 554. ST made Route 554 slower via South Jackson Street to provide a connection that had been provided at the Rainier freeway stop. Slower transit is less attractive to potential riders.

  8. I’m disappointed with service levels on the new 270. They look to be worse than they are now, despite being a much better route. The new route will:

    1) Be faster. This is not only better for riders, but cheaper to operate.
    2) Go by a lot more people.
    3) Connect better with other routes via the freeway station.

    Yet during much of the day, frequency goes from ten minutes to fifteen. During the weekends, it goes from every half hour to every hour. I get that Link is an alternative, but the bus will be much faster for about every trip. For Bellevue Way this bus will be the only service at all, and yet it doesn’t get the frequency that (very low density) Medina got. It seems crazy to make a route better, but then cut frequency.

  9. Couple small comments I made:

    111 — I would rather end in downtown Bellevue (via 405). This wouldn’t take much longer, since the bus would already be on the freeway, in the HOV lanes. This means a longer trip for those headed to Seattle, but so be it. For that matter, you might as well go to Mercer Island, since that gets a frequent connection to Eastgate, Issaquah, etc.

  10. 256 — This looks to be an improvement, but I’m really not thrilled with sending buses downtown, when you can connect to the UW and save money. Totem Lake could use a fast an all-day connection to Seattle, and they won’t get it as long they are blowing money on an express to (and through) downtown.

    1. It’s the same issue as those North Seattle expresses to SLU/First Hill you bemoan. There’s a continuum between keeping all downtown expresses and truncating all them. It’s a judgment call how many to keep. And how many to almost keep by redirecting them to SLU/First Hill which Link doesn’t serve directly. Metro could be a little more bold and truncate more, or a little more cautious and truncate less. The fact that it’s truncating at all is a step forward from the pre-2012 mentality. I like your idea of an all-day Woodinville 405 express to UW, but Metro isn’t there yet. The bad experience with the 255 right when the pandemic hit may have made Metro more cautious re the 256.

      1. In some ways it is worse. No one is losing coverage in north Seattle. In this case, riders of the 252 and 257 lose coverage. What do they get? Nothing. There is no significant improvement for them. The routing downtown could have occurred with the old 252 and 257. They have to drive or transfer at 405.

        To be clear, if you are going to go downtown, this is the way to do it. This routing is much better than the 544. The 544 makes two mistakes. First, it wastes time visiting South Bellevue — those riders can take the 255 and transfer at a freeway station. Second, it serves South Lake Union on the way to the rest of downtown. If ST was killing off the 544 while Metro was running the new 256 it would be one thing, but that’s not happening either. Overall, it just looks worse.

        In contrast, running to the UW has some losers, but at least it has winners. It is a one seat ride to the UW, but also a much better transfer to Northgate or Capitol Hill (which is close to First Hill). Metro saves a lot of money, which it can use to improve service in the neighborhoods.

  11. How is Mercer Island faring in the restructure? I thought Mercer Island had lost all all-day service so I was surprised when it said the 204 is already running weekdays and Saturdays. So why does Daniel say there are no buses to connect to Link on Mercer Island? Or is it just that there are no buses not on Island Crest Way.

    I think it said somewhere there’s a Hopelink peak-hour van from south Mercer Island to Seattle. Does that exist? I thought Hopelink ran homeless and senior shuttles and had a bad reputation.

    How is Mercer Island faring in the restructure?

    More comprehensively, which kind of coverage network on Mercer Island would allow most people to get to Link? Do we just need a bus on Island Crest Way. Daniel mentioned steep hills as a barrier, so I imagine people can’t walk to Island Crest Way. Would a loop route on West Mercer Way and East Mercer Way take care of the rest? Would there still be places that can’t get to any of those without a steep hill, and do those places have more than three houses each?

    1. Daniel has also made statements about Covid19 that were disproven a year and a half ago. I don’t know what his sources are, but it seems like it’s best to treat with suspect anything he says unless he provides a source.

      1. Yeah, but in every metric, it performed poorly. It was one of the worst routes in our system in terms of ridership per mile, for example — both peak and off peak. Shuttles often get good ridership per hour of service because they let the other bus do the heavy lifting (spending a lot of time going to and through downtown, while picking up no additional riders). But not that is route. To be fair, it wasn’t frequent, and there is an obvious alternative available for just about everyone in this wealthy suburb (park and ride). Service on Mercer Island is all about coverage, and that hasn’t changed.

      2. The 204 isn’t even mainline Metro service anymore, but is DART service and contracted out, to Hopelink I believe. The tradeoff is contracted service using smaller medium-duty equipment (not the larger, heavy-duty mainline buses) for better span of service and better frequency. Capacity has never been an issue and more service is generally better than less service, so it is hard to argue with the tradeoff.

    2. Mercer Island is getting a couple minor improvements to bus service. First is the addition of Sunday service to the 204. Second is the change to the 630’s routing to better serve First Hill.

      The 204 represents what’s left of Metro service on the island. Formerly there were a few all-day routes:
      203 (loop from the park and ride over to City Hall and up to Shorewood and then the community center)
      204 (similar to today)
      213 (similar to the 203 except it served Covenant Shores instead of Shorewood)
      This was all hourly (or worse) coverage service. The 203 and 213 were somewhat useful in providing a connection from the park and ride and “downtown” Mercer Island over to the offices and City Hall on SE 36th Street at the base of Gallagher Hill, but ridership on these routes was abysmal.

      There was also some peak hour-peak direction service:
      201 (South end of the island to downtown Seattle via West Mercer Way)
      202 (basically the 204 that continued on to downtown Seattle)
      205 (South end of the island to U District via Boren)

      Everything except the 204 got deleted in the 2014 cuts. Mercer Island opted to use part of their car tab money (Transportation Benefit District) to fund the 630 to replace the lost 205 service to First Hill, but citizens insisted on a connection to downtown Seattle as well (replacing lost 202 service) that never really made sense, since that required a hook from First Hill over to downtown; the 550 was always faster. But for First Hill access the 630 is pretty useful; my wife rode it pre-COVID to get to/from medical appointments. If you were coming from further east on the 550 or 554 and going to First Hill it was worth the transfer if you timed it right.

      Overall I’d characterize the changes for Mercer Island as positive, but very minor. The two other things Metro could do would be a better span of service on the 204 (specifically evening service), and some additional coverage in the north end. Metro recognizes (via Metro Connects) that there is a need for some additional coverage serving the City Hall area and the SE 40th Street corridor, but that would be a low priority relative to other needs on the Eastside.

      (I live on Mercer Island too.)

      1. I should add that Mercer Island also gains some new direct connections that don’t exist today, namely service to Sammamish via the 269 and out to Snoqualmie and North Bend via the 215. Those trips today require riding the 554 to Issaquah TC and transferring to either the 269 or 208. These routes also provide a connection to Eastgate at higher frequency than today’s 554. The direct connection to Issaquah TC goes away, since the 554 would be going to South Bellevue and the 215 and 269 are skipping Issaquah TC.

        Link itself also provides a huge benefit of course.

  12. My familiarity with East side routes is probably the lowest of any of the Puget Sound region, with the exception of Mason County.

    One of the things TriMet does when doing light rail restructured is to create one seat rides where none existed previously.

    As an example, you’ve got this route 111 that heads to downtown Seattle. Would it make sense to send that to South Bellevue P&R, and then to Redmond using a non- Link parallel route, so that commuters along that route have a new one seat ride to a possible commuter destination?

    Obviously, this would have to be a pairing of likely destinations.

    Here, when route 33 stopped going downtown, it was combined with the old route 31. Before the Orange line, there were a large number of transfers between the routes. All those former transfers suddenly got a one seat ride, and it’s pretty busy.

    All of these East King County routes serve places that are more populated than anything in Clackamas County, so it’s hard for me to imagine there being no opportunity for this type of combination.

    Mercer Island seems like another great opportunity. Fine, the majority want to go to downtown Seattle or Bellevue. What’s next up on the their destination list? It seems like something along the lines of a 204 to Link to whatever that destination is would add a bit to the network. Say it’s the hospitals at First Hill? A 204 could get Mercer Island people there, while also getting them to Link, while also getting Link passengers from the Mercer Island link station to First Hill.

    However, I don’t know where the best opportunities would be for these types of combinations.

  13. What do you mean how is Mercer Island doing in the restructure. I already posted I like the restructure. Three buses truncating on MI are consistent with the original plan. If this has been released in 2018 we might have avoided a lot of litigation. I guess Covid is not all bad.

    Obviously you are unfamiliar with MI. The 201 used to circle The Mercers (that all the off-Island bicyclists love) but ridership was low because just the access roads to The Mercers are very steep, and the 201 was sloooow unless your time is worthless. Plus lot sizes are huge. Getting from The Mercers tovICW is another steep and long climb.

    There is the 204 from the south end shopping center to the north end bus stop, except you make the same common mistake: first/last mile access begins at your doorstep because that is where the car is parked, and there is little parking at the south end shopping center. So it is three seats just to get off the Island if you count driving to the south end shopping center and can find a commuter parking spot.

    I don’t know about the disability service you mention but assume that is county wide, and you better order a week in advance if you live on the south end. But I thought you hated micro Transit .

    The city tried a subsidized Uber/Lyft program and an e-bike program but both were duds.

    In the end few Islanders will take transit if they can afford not to because you really need a car on the Eastside. You just don’t understand the Eastside.

    I understand some ST fans resent Tisgwm or me questioning ST’s numbers or assumptions. Mostly they are ideologues who think transit will replace cars, if we just subsidize it enough and disadvantage the car enough. But it will never happen.

    I think the restructure proves everything I have been saying about ST’s ridership projections, working from home, and eastsiders’ desires to avoid Seattle. Kudos to Metro for taking off the rose colored glasses.

    Will there be a future funding crisis over the operations deficit for ST? Of course, just like I tried to tell you the capital budget would need a “realignment”, and another. What I didn’t see in the restructure was the “equal” first/last mile access promised in the amendment proposed by the mayor of Kenmore for delaying Eastside park and rides because N. King Co. is broke.

    The other good news is buses truncating from Issaquah on MI will need less and less frequency. First working from home will increase and become permanent for a lot of these commuters, second many will drive to a park and ride that serves East Link rather than drive to a bus to go to East Link to go to Seattle, third fewer and fewer will commute to Seattle, and those who do will demand express buses — certainly to SLU — if even Lake City got express buses. Issaquah isn’t Lake City, and this subarea can afford a $4.5 billion line from nowhere to nowhere.

    So the restructure is everything I hoped it would be. We didn’t even want a light rail station, and basically got two. Most of that is due to the pandemic and Seattle City Council. It is going to cause havoc with farebox recovery, but the Eastside can afford it.

    So no complaints here. I want transit to survive, but not if an arrogant ST wants to destroy my community and we had an ideologue for a mayor in 2016.

    1. “I don’t know about the disability service you mention but assume that is county wide, and you better order a week in advance”

      My impression is it’s a fixed-schedule van similar to the Snoqualmie Valley Shuttle, not an on-demand service and not countywide, just a single route. The countywide disabled service is Access.

    2. “Obviously you are unfamiliar with MI”

      I’m unfamiliar with Mercer Island because of its lack of transit. I’ve been to Mercer Island three times that I remember. In college a friend took me to his family’s house, in my STB days I went to Luther Burbank where we used to go when I was a child, and once at a Japanese restaurant downtown. The latter two were obviously within walking distance of the P&R. I’ve known people who worked at the Stroum Jewish Community Center, but due to the lack of transit I’ve never been there.

      Hence I was asking you how well the proposal for on-island service met residents’ needs, and whether you thought it was proportionately appropriate for the island, and what kind of network would meet the island’s total coverage needs.

      “You just don’t understand the Eastside.”

      I do know something about the Eastside, even if you don’t believe it. I grew up in Bellevue as I said, and experienced it, and I hear what other Eastsiders think about transit and driving. I know most Eastsiders think driving is the normal thing, and transit would have to be extremely convenient in order for them to use it. Many of them just want buses on the freeways, or the old milk runs from their door, or more stops than are warranted, etc. Many have completely unrealistic views about how much it would cost to continue the old milk runs alongside the more efficient consolidated routes, or how much a parking space costs, etc. I often push back against more extreme transit fans who want to eliminate P&Rs or have totally urbanesque route designs in the suburbs because I know the majority of suburbanites wouldn’t tolerate it, and they are the majority of the county and region. Because that’s what I hear them say when I’m there or I’m talking with them.

    3. I do have a great story re that college friend. One Saturday morning I went to meet hi, so I took the bus to a Mercer Island stop and waited. He met me in his VW and said, “Why don’t we take a road trip to Spokane, right now?” Because two older guys I hadn’t seen were hitchhiking and looking for a ride to Spokane. So we decided to take them, for $20 gas money. This was 1986. I’d been to Spokane a few times in high school, as part of a club that had alternating Bellevue-Spokane conferences. Spokane was one of my favorite places on earth then, It had an old small-town feel, and local quirky businesses — the chain stores hadn’t invaded yet.

      We left at 10:30am and arrived in Spokane in the late afternoon. I don’t remember much about the trip but I enjoyed it. The two hitchhikers were vacuum-cleaner salesmen who traveled throughout Washington towns. Their houses turned out to be very working class. After we left them we had dinner and drove back the same day. We arrived back in Seattle at 10:30pm.

  14. > It’s large in an Eastside suburban context. We need to adequately serve the suburbs.

    I think the suburbs got a good deal in ST3. Bellevue and Redmond got more stations per person than Seattle. If someone knows how to get figures for jobs (since Link is mostly a commuter train outside of Tacoma), I’m happy to do the numbers.

    City Stops People/stop
    Kent 1 132,000
    Federal Way 2 48,000
    Seattle 16 46,063
    Lynnwood 1 39,000
    Shoreline 2 28,500
    Mercer Island 1 26,000
    Bellevue 6 25,000
    Tukwila 1 20,000
    Mountlake Terrace 1 20,000
    Redmond 4 18,000
    Tacoma 13 16,769
    Sea-Tac 2 14,500

    If Seattle had the same ratio as Bellevue or Redmond, there would be 30 or 40 stations and Kent would have 5-7 stops instead of 1. In the suburban context, Kent is the big loser.

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