“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.