Incoming 2011 New Flyer Industries XD40 to Ash Way Park & Ride On A Damp Day - Widescreen

With Northgate Link opening in less than a week, Community Transit will begin a fundamental, multi-year transformation from providing a blend of long-haul commuter and local service to a refreshed agency focused on fast and frequent transit operations primarily within Snohomish County. CT’s initial phase of reworking existing commuter routes will take advantage of Link Light Rail’s new Northgate terminus and large transit center to greatly enhance where Community Transit riders can travel. Starting Monday, October 4th, CT will truncate all University District-bound service, known as the 800-series routes, to end at Northgate Station. This resolves serious issues of speed and reliability caused by regional congestion and massively improves transit connectivity between Snohomish County and Link Light Rail.

Let’s acknowledge that riders transferring at Northgate Station will lose their one-seat ride to the University District. Many of us will be losing our one-seat ride on October 2nd, myself included. While inconvenient, that’s by design as we to move towards utilizing Link as an alternative to the redundant bus routes operating in heavy north-south regional congestion, and it’s important to recognize the greater benefits of this strategy.

Currently, congestion between Seattle and Lynnwood forces transit agencies to burn valuable service hours by padding revenue and non-revenue (deadheading) schedules to realistically schedule buses accounting for slow travel times. While buses sit in congestion, the total number of trips each bus can complete in a day is limited while riders have to deal with unreliable and unpredictable service, leading to an inefficient use of transit agency and taxpayer resources. Would people rather have an unpredictable one-seat ride with longer waits between buses, or a more predictable two-seat ride with frequent service? The agency has chosen the latter for us, and we’ll learn to appreciate it.

Community Transit is capitalizing on Link’s investment in high operating speed, large capacity, and congestion-free right-of-way to provide extremely frequent and reliable service; the bread and butter of good transit. For riders between Snohomish County and the University District, truncating routes at Northgate enables CT to add more service, including nearly 50 more 800-series trips each day. This means more capacity, greater frequency, and more hours of the day with 15-minute peak frequencies. In the words of Jarett Walker, “frequency is freedom” and Snohomish county residents are about to feel a lot more freedom in their mobility options.

King County Metro is also restructuring their North King County network to leverage Link. Refocused commuter routes, including routes 303, 320, and 322 will provide service from north King County to Northgate Station and Downtown via Link, then these buses will get on I-5 express lanes to major employment centers in First Hill and South Lake Union, instead of their current route of driving to Downtown. Several other North King County Metro 300-series routes will truncate at Northgate Station  with the tradeoff of increased frequency and longer operating hours of service.

Similarly, Sound Transit Routes 511, 512, and 513 will be truncated at Northgate Station to provide reliable, frequent, all-day service between Snohomish County and the Link network.

Beyond commuting, new transit offerings from Northgate Station will open more destinations for riders seeking regional connectivity, convenience, choice, and use of transit for more trips. Upon restructuring, an 800-series route will connect at Northgate Station to key King County Metro routes bound for First Hill, SLU, Ballard, Fremont, U Village, and a huge selection of other destinations which have not been easy for Snohomish County residents to reach before. Routes 511, 512, and 513 provide frequent off-peak and weekend service, enabling new transit choices throughout the week. Even CT riders utilizing traditional 400-series peak-period commuter routes between Snohomish County and Downtown Seattle can choose between a one-seat 400-series or an 800-series plus Link, depending on traffic or personal preference.

For this transformation, Community Transit has refreshed their outreach process leveraging social media and new outreach methodologies to reach as many riders as possible at no additional cost to the agency. In my next piece on this fall’s transit restructure, I’ll be speaking with CT’s Luke Distelhorst and Monica Spain on their stellar outreach campaign, conducted entirely in-house.

Community Transit will be hosting a virtual trip planning and outreach event on Monday, September 27th at 6pm.

This transit transformation towards local, frequent, Link-focused connections begins a monumental undertaking for Community Transit as the agency looks towards 2024 when Lynnwood Link is scheduled to open. We look forward to watching Community Transit as they move in a new direction.

125 Replies to “Community Transit builds new connections at Northgate”

  1. When Link reaches Lynnwood in about 3 years, I’m not expecting to see many CT buses south of Shoreline North. It will be interesting to see what CT do mes with their long-distance vehicles.

    1. Agree there won’t be much (if any) CT buses south of Shoreline North, but CT has plenty of long haul routes elsewhere in its system to put those vehicles to use.

      1. I think the 400s will all mostly be truncated to Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace and the hours reinvested in local service, but I’d expect at least the 424-Snohomish to continue into Seattle, since it uses I-405 and SR 520, and possibly other super long haul ones such as the 422-Stanwood.

        But the service dividend may well exceed demand for local service expansions, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the resources used for new or split commuter routes as well. For instance, new peak service to Arlington or even Darrington, or restructuring the 412 and extending it to Snohomish, and then cutting the Snohomish tail of the the 424 and extending it from Monroe to Gold Bar. Etc etc.

      2. I’d expect at least the 424-Snohomish to continue into Seattle, since it uses I-405 and SR 520, and possibly other super long haul ones such as the 422-Stanwood.

        It would be weird for a longer route to still exist, but shorter ones be terminated. Generally speaking, the farther you are from your destination, the more tolerant you are of transfers.

        The 424 is a different beast. It is kind of weird that they don’t truncate it now (at the U-District). Maybe they are waiting for 520 to settle down. In a little while, the section from the East Side to the UW will be finished, and buses will be able to reach the station very easily (more easily than they reach Northgate). But then again, they only run the buses twice a day, so maybe it isn’t worth bothering (I’m not sure if they ran them more often in the past).

        I agree with your statement about service dividend. I think CT will do a big restructure after Link gets to Lynnwood (well beyond just truncating routes and increasing frequency) and it could include all sorts of things. That being said, it also depends on how much money CT can spend on transit. They might save a lot with the expresses, but lose a lot because of lower tax revenue.

  2. I’m curious to know if they are going to further modify or truncate routes in case of snow, and any other type of event (major protest maybe?) that reduces the downtown grid to gridlock.

    In such a case I think it would make sense to truncate additional routes at Northgate.

    1. As someone who works for CT, I desperately try to convince operational staff during each snow event and sudden disruptions to service to think outside the box to address severe delays (i.e. shuttles to LTC or serving UW station instead). The 2020 riots were the worst where we had the 512, at times, use i-405 to go around I-5 closures. It’s unfortunate to say the contractor, First Transit, is long tenured and VERY closed minded about doing anything that’s different from what they’re used to. CT staff are a bit more open but still lack ingenuity. When Link reaches Lynnwood, I hope we’ll say goodbye to our contractor.

      1. Contingency planning post-ST2 certainly seems to be weak right now. Buses are flexible to take other paths, but rail is not. Further, a full Link train carries as many people as 6-10 articulated buses so a backup requires lots more vehicles and drivers. Finally, replacement service requires both new curb space for buses and station signage to tell riders what to do. Because if these things, a pre-planned strategy is more needed because it seems difficult to implement on the fly.

        That said, I don’t expect snow emergencies to create Link service disruptions. After all, the system is in a subway between Northgate and the ID (where the two lines diverge, so even if one line has problems somewhere else the other one will still be able to operate). The tracks have gentler grades than some segments that buses use. Plus, much heavier rail vehicles are less likely to slide and melted snow can’t easily ice over a steel rail — unlike the tails of articulated buses running on pavement that can freeze over.

        The most likely disruption is suicides or homicides on Link. It’s unpleasant to discuss, but it happens more than a person realizes. I’ve ridden on other systems that freeze service for at least 30 minutes to investigate. Of course, ST could simply switch to a single track operation but that becomes much harder when a train starts arriving every 4-5 minutes in each direction (both Lines 1 and 2 will be operating in 2023).

      2. Jordan, I realize this is a bit off topic, but maybe you can tell me whom I should contact to express a frustration that I deal with? I live on the Olympic Peninsula, and I would like to take the Kingston-Edmonds ferry as a foot passenger and connect with a CT bus to Northgate or to Paine field. To do that now requires me to take two buses and a lot of time. I wish CT would consider how many more passengers they would get if they linked their buses to the ferry schedule, providing an easy and inexpensive way for those across the water to get to transportation hubs in Snohomish and King counties.

      3. @Rachel — It is a bit surprising that there is no 800 series bus from Edmonds. There is the 416 (to downtown) but that’s it. The passenger ferry from Kingston to downtown Seattle might take away some of the potential riders. Instead of taking a ferry to Edmonds, then a bus to the U-District, they take the ferry downtown and backtrack using Link. I would think that there would be enough riders in the neighborhood to justify an 800 series bus, but apparently not.

        Part of the problem is that CT decided to keep the express buses to downtown. Those buses are really expensive, as they spend a huge amount of time on the freeway, or going through downtown. It also means that you have to have twice as many buses since you are serving two destinations (Northgate and downtown). All of this costs a lot of money.

        If Lynnwood had more money, they would probably run more express service, and more service through the neighborhoods. That isn’t going to happen though. You can push for changes, but living outside the county makes it tougher (politically). You might reach out to organizations in Edmonds, or representatives in Edmonds. It is likely that there are people in Edmonds who would benefit from a direct bus to Northgate. It will be a while before they make another change, though (probably at least a year).

        Otherwise, you can just wait until Lynnwood Link. At that point, you should be able to take buses to the Lynnwood Station, or Mountlake Terrace, avoiding a transfer.

      4. “It is a bit surprising that there is no 800 series bus from Edmonds.”

        I thought there was; I remember people taking it. Maybe it was deleted earlier.

    2. “I would love to see more expansion of the light rail system but does Seattle have the density that would make the light rail the best choice? I’m all for thinking into the future but density is something that we should address by changing zoning boundaries. What are your thoughts?”

      Great question, if it were 23 years ago, when that question would have meant should there be a station on First Hill, SLU, or more stations in the UW, or Capitol Hill.

      What I do know is virtually every area outside a few in Seattle (due to jobs, traffic congestion, density, and a willingness to ride transit), do not have the density to support the cost of light rail (especially post pandemic).

      First, Seattle’s population growth and the population growth of King Co. slowed dramatically post pandemic. Now we are seeing more population growth in the more remote/rural/suburban areas of the three county ST taxing district. The idea the population of the entire three country area (that including Kitsap Country is larger than many states) will reach 10 million will take decades or centuries really, and 10 million over those four counties is hardly dense.

      Second, one thing I have learned from this blog is it is ridership density, not population density, that determines the mode and frequency. Yes, Bellevue plans to expand pretty dramatically, but do folks in multi-million dollar condos ride transit? No, which is why the tenants, lenders and city require so much onsite parking for these new massive buildings. Seattleites own 460,000 cars, and every time a new bridge is necessary the very first demand for the new bridge is no loss of car capacity. So don’t expect the future to be different than the past when it comes to the fact 10% of trips are by transit. Obviously transit has some flaws if after all the billions of dollars it has 10% of the trips (in many cases by legally disadvantaging cars).

      Third, a point Ross raises a lot is it shouldn’t be very hard to figure out where the ridership density is (and it certainly is not all of Seattle). You don’t need a crystal ball (which is how ST and the PSRC do it), you just need to look at ridership on buses. If regular buses are full then increase frequency, then move to some kind of express bus if ridership keeps growing, and then if express buses are maxed out look at the huge costs of light rail. Instead too many transit advocates — and ST — believe they can force folks to live someplace, or to take transit, or manufacture ridership. That becomes a real problem when you get into single family zones and suburbia, because those folks value the SFH more than they do transit, and always will. Give them a park and ride and one seat express bus to work (which is the only time they ride transit) and they are fine, because there non-work life demands a car.

      Fourth, the money is gone. If you want to take rail to Everett or Tacoma or Redmond you will be able to, but it has cost us $131 billion, just to date. So whether the ridership is there is irrelevant if there isn’t the money for light rail beyond ST 3, and my own guess is there still isn’t the money for ST 3 after the realignment (and ST still hasn’t addressed its future operational cost assumptions based on some very “optimistic” ridership projections).

      Fifth, it is 2021. We have been in a pandemic for 18 months, and will likely be in a pandemic for at least another six months. People are de-urbanizing. It is unlikely U.S. birth rates will rebound. WFH may affect transit ridership, and eastsiders may decide to work from the eastside now that Bellevue has those work opportunities. Don’t try and predict where the transit ridership density will be in the future: wait for it, on buses first. “Induced demand” is fools gold.

      Sixth, with the huge area in the three country ST district, and meagre population, zoning for transit means further urbanizing what is already urban, not making urban what is not, because it becomes impossible to serve those new “urban” areas with feeder transit service. The big mistake, IMO, Seattle has made is mildly upzoning the entire city, which is geographically huge, rather than focusing urbanism in areas already urban with folks who want urbanism and want to ride transit, with lots of transit stops.

      I guess my two questions are: 1. what happens if ridership on Link is quite a bit lower than ST estimated in its levies — which is a certainty? Should we downzone Seattle, or begin to dismantle light rail because it is so expensive to operate with low ridership? And 2. What if ridership on Link post pandemic is way lower than anyone estimated? WFH and less traffic congestion, and just changes in work demographics with areas with lower parking costs, could mean that what we really need is more parking, not light rail. If there is the room for single family zones why urbanize if folks don’t want that. Let urbanists live in urban areas and focus transit there, and let non-urbanists live in their zones without trying to force them onto transit if they don’t want to ride transit..

      1. “Bellevue plans to expand pretty dramatically, but do folks in multi-million dollar condos ride transit?”

        Folks who clean those condos and work at tech companies do. We don’t make transit decisions based on whether the to 1% will ride it. We make it based on whether the majority, who make less than $150K and a large chunk make less than $70K, do.

      2. DC Metro has been able to have stations that create robust ridership outside of the District. It usually helps when parking costs at work sites exist, parking supply at work sites is limited, good pedestrian networks are in place (maybe climate controlled or at least protected from rain) and employers subsidize transit use.

        Even today, Downtown Bellevue parking costs are already higher than many US downtowns that currently have light rail service. The narrative that Link is just for Downtown Seattle commuters is terribly antiquated (and thus false) at this point.

      3. “what happens if ridership on Link is quite a bit lower than ST estimated in its levies”

        We sit back and rejoice that for the first time in sixty years, we might have overbuilt transit instead of chronically underbuilding and underoperating it.

        “begin to dismantle light rail because it is so expensive to operate with low ridership?”

        If a subway was justified in 1972 when the population was far lower, it’s justified now. It enables mobility flexibility that an all-bus network can’t provide, or at least that the Puget Sound governments have been unwilling to provide, which is the same thing from a passengers’ perspective. Germany has light rail and S-Bahn stations in cities much smaller than Pugetopolis.

        ” What if ridership on Link post pandemic is way lower than anyone estimated?”

        What if it’s higher? Why are you dwelling on a glass half empty? Nobody knows what ridership will be post-pandemic, so why are you dwelling on the worst-case scenario? And even if it is lower, we should run Link at a 10-minute minimum frequency anyway. Maybe the outer areas beyond Federal Way and Lynnwood can be lower. ST has already considered the possibility. The earlier scenarios for East Link had it terminating at Northgate off-peak. It was extended to Lynnwood full-time because ST believed it would need the capacity. It could reverse the decision.

      4. ‘What if ridership on Link post pandemic is way lower than anyone estimated?’

        “What if it’s higher? Why are you dwelling on a glass half empty?”

        The reasons people ride transit will simply not be understood by people that don’t ride transit. Naturally, he’s not going to foresee that ridership might increase beyond expectation, because he can’t think of a single reason why it would.

        Not that his perspective isn’t valuable as a counterweight to a lot of people on this blog. But asking him to be more optimistic about transit is like asking a cat to eat a garden salad.

      5. “begin to dismantle light rail because it is so expensive to operate with low ridership?”

        Why don’t we dismantle the 520 bridge because it gets such low drivership?

        Seriously, the expensive part of light rail is building it. Once it’s built, the operating cost is just a driver+electricity – essentially the same cost as running a bus.

      6. Well, we know ridership on Link will be lower than ST estimated in the levies because it was already lower than estimated pre-pandemic. By quite a bit. ST’s ridership estimates were a study in deceit to pass levies, like its project cost estimates. An idiot knows that.

        With a pandemic and WFH (not something ST could have foreseen) who knows how much lower actual ridership on Link will go.

        No, no one is going to tear up light rail tracks (although the operations budget will be need a levy, as will Metro, although for 520 and other tolled bridges/tunnels they raised fares which is what they should do on Link to cover operations shortfalls). The question was whether the region/Seattle needs more rail (as opposed to more transit). The answer is no, because future ridership will show we needed less rail than we laid, and very few areas justified rail.

        I understand special interests only seeing what benefits them: light rail, stadiums, the homeless industrial complex, shifting transit from north to south Seattle, etc. ST fanatics think $131 billion is not enough, and Seattle Subway thinks $500 billion is not enough, because it is…drum roll…rail, although all transit accounts for 10% of all trips, and rail accounts for far fewer trips than buses and an exorbitant cost to build.

        But smarter or less myopic people are suppose to look at the whole social fabric. Homelessness, bus transit, affordable housing, bridge replacement, community healthcare, wage replacement, and so many other social needs were devastated and will be devastated because ST sucked $131 billion out of the system so mostly white, middle and upper middle class transit riders could play on trains and have a slightly more comfortable ride, unless they are going to work in SLU, and my guess is not many are going to work.

        I don’t mind light rail (except for the loss of trees and environmental damage from East Link), it is the cost I mind, and what won’t get funded because of ST. The people who got fucked from light rail were the poor, not me.

      7. “Bellevue plans to expand pretty dramatically, but do folks in multi-million dollar condos ride transit?”

        Of course they do. It is one of the reasons they chose to live there, instead of in a multi-million dollar house. From downtown Bellevue you will soon be able to get to downtown Seattle, Redmond, or Capitol Hill quite easily. Even now you can get to the UW and downtown easily. It is a selling point.

      8. There are many reasons to choose an expensive condo over an expensive single family house Ross, and at least on the eastside that choice usually has to do with the kids having left the house and wanting to travel more with less maintenance. On the eastside many if not most of these condo owners moved from their single family houses, and many have vacation homes they winter in. These are not young people.

        I am always surprised at how few Mercer Island residents who live in the town center take transit. Our town center is right next to the bus stop. Buses in both directions are frequent, or were. It is flat and an easy walk. Seattle to the west and Bellevue to the east.

        One of the assumptions for lowering parking minimums in mixed use developments on MI was easy access to transit, but alas most drive, and so we have inadequate onsite parking now in the town center which clogs our streets and forces out parking for retail. Now we are embarking on an expensive parking management plan, that has to rely on expensive license plate cameras after the sixth circuit ruled marking a tire with chalk violates the fourth amendment.

        I think a few main reasons many will move to an expensive condo in Bellevue will to not have to drive or take transit to go somewhere, safety of course, and to be able to travel without worrying about a house. And maybe concierge service. If anything they will Uber within the Bellevue area.

        Main Street/Bellevue Way/Lincoln Square is a little different because they are quite a walk (for eastsiders) to East Link. But even for developments in The Spring District or Wiburton why would those tenants want to go to Redmond or Seattle, whether in a car or on transit? I can’t see them going to Capitol Hill at all, (Mon Dieu!), let alone on transit, anymore than I can see them taking Link to Angle Lake or Lynnwood or Mercer Island or Judkins Park or Northgate. Why? If they do go somewhere on the eastside parking will be free unless some downtown work parking, there is Uber, and they are not taking transit into Seattle, that I know because there is no reason to. Otherwise they would have bought in Seattle. Or transit to the airport.

        And don’t get me started on taking transit at night.

        These are folks who have never taken transit, or had to take transit. I doubt they will begin because light rail runs by their new condo building, to go to Redmond to the east or Capitol Hill or God Forbid downtown Seattle to the west.

        I am sure most of us eastsiders will take Link at least once as an adventure, if we can walk to the station or find park and ride space. For my wife and me it will likely be to Redmond because we never go to Redmond (why?), going east seems safer, and because we will want a long ride, although my wife is not a huge fan of transit and will wonder why don’t we just drive, or why are we going to Redmond, which are pretty good questions.

      9. “although the operations budget will be need a levy”

        It’s included in ST1, 2, and 3 for their respective projects. All projects include perpetual operating funds and periodic fleet replacement. The tax rollback after construction will be not to zero but to an operations & maintenance level. I’ve heard that’s around one-third of the capital level.

        “why are we going to Redmond”

        That’s Redmond’s responsibility to attract people. One reason would be to go to an event at Marymoor Park like Cirque du Soleil, your favorite band, a friend’s rugby tournament, or recreation. Downtown Redmond has a significant number of independent restaurants and businesses you might want to go to. It has a bunch of walking trails. The number and diversity of destinations will increase as the population does if the city of Redmond plays its cards right.

      10. Mike, just because something is “in” ST 1, 2 or 3 does not make the revenue or cost assumptions accurate. For example, ST 1 was 84% overbudget, even though projects like a First Hill Station were “in” ST 1. ST 3 says you can build DSTT2 for $2.2 billion and WSBLE could be built based on the revenue estimates in ST 3.

        Yes, ST 1, 2 and 3 include funding assumptions for operations revenue, way out until 2044. Those assumptions include a very optimistic number of riders — pre-pandemic — and a 40% farebox recovery rate, and some generous assumptions for other taxes, and knowing ST optimistic operations costs considering most transit agencies downplay replacement costs.

        If those assumptions are wrong, like many things in ST 1, 2 and 3 because they were optimistically stated in order to pass levies by having lower taxes and tax rates then a “realignment” or some kind of supplemental revenue source will be necessary to cover the operational costs of ST.

        Pretty much same with Metro, although its farebox recovery rate is only 20%. Some think truncation will be a windfall for Metro, some think truncation and having one fare for two forms of transit won’t be a windfall for Metro and feeder bus service at the necessary frequencies to make Link work since it now includes a transfer or two (although Ross is not seeing those frequencies) will be very difficult for Metro, much harder funding wise than just running rail on fixed tracks, assuming the operations assumptions for ST were even close.

        In the end we will know by the number of riders.

    3. @ Al, I wasn’t talking about a Link disruption.

      I’m just wondering if gridlock happens in downtown due to snow (or something else) if CT would look at maybe NOT sending buses downtown where all they would do is get stuck.

      1. Yes, jas, I agree that Link will be the go-to transit preference in a snow emergency! That’s even true for existing stations.

        One residual benefit of the pandemic is that more places have recently added systems and policies to allow for fewer workers needed onsite during snow emergencies. This will help keep crowds and traffic lower on those days.

      2. Passengers might get ahead of the agencies here. When you have a robust, reliable high-capacity transit service, people start using it for more things over time.

      3. “Passengers might get ahead of the agencies here. When you have a robust, reliable high-capacity transit service, people start using it for more things over time.”

        I think you are right Mike, because suddenly, with Northgate, people will have choices! If they choose, anyone stuck downtown will be able to take a train to Northgate where they can catch a bus going further north! So Jordan is probably right, and I doubt that CT will proactively truncate during these types of events.

  3. Iggyfritz is a LR guy. He gets what LR can and can’t do, and he gets what buses can and can’t do. I’m excited to see the reworked bus system and how it supports, and works with, LR.

    Under 5 days to NG Link opening! The transit world is going to change!

    And even bigger changes are coming when Lynnwood Link opens.

  4. What I wonder is what will happen to the Mountlake Terrace freeway station when Link comes to Lynnwood and buses no longer run south. The only serious possibility I can think of is CT having a 400 series bus to SLU using the future transit ramp to the express lanes.

    1. During peak hours (the only hours that such buses would be running anyway), buses will spend more time stuck in traffic than what would be saved by avoiding the transfer. The I-5 express lanes might be fast, but the Stewart St. exit ramp can take 20 minutes, and the slog on local Seattle streets can take another 20. And the tallest buildings in SLU are at the south end of it, within a 1/2 mile walk of Westlake station, anyway. Those that want to go from Lynnwood to Fred Hutch can transfer to the C line that runs very frequently and uses the Westlake bus lanes.

      1. Yeah, Mercer St. For better or worse, Metro seems to think that it’s important not to force 3-seat rides for downtown-ish places like SLU and First Hill (hence a bunch of new peak expresses from Northgate). I see the perspective. These are a lot of choice riders, and getting people sold on 3-seat rides just to get them to use the train would be tough anyway, despite it just being literally a last-mile problem.

        Combined SLU-First Hill routes like the 309 (which use Boren as a straight shot from SLU to First Hill) seem smart. It nicely encompasses multiple too-far-from-Link parts of greater downtown into one freeway trip.

      2. Combined SLU-First Hill routes like the 309 (which use Boren as a straight shot from SLU to First Hill) seem smart.

        I wouldn’t go that far, but connecting SLU with First Hill (even just peak direction) does have benefit. But that is going away. There will be two buses instead. There will be the 320, which serves South Lake Union, and then ends a couple blocks from Westlake Center. There will also be the 322, which serves 5th and James (a couple blocks from Pioneer Square Station) before going up to First Hill, and then looping around the block. I’m sure for many it isn’t solving a “last half-mile” problem, but is simply an alternative to transferring to the train. No escalators, no wait, just a bus to downtown, like the good old days.

    2. Alex, there are already ramps at Mercer to and from the Express Lanes, so it could be done at any time.

      1. Ah, I see. Looks like it’ll be made bus/carpool only, along with a new bus/carpool only lane in the express lanes from Mercer St to 520, which will be a significant improvement.

      2. Alex: perhaps Metro is in error. The former routes 63, 64, and 309 are almost deleted. They mistakenly attempted to serve both SLU and First Hill via the congested Boren Avenue. Boren Avenue feed freeway interchanges and parking garages and is very slow in the peak periods. In the p.m., former routes 63, 64, and 309 deviated from Boren to avoid that congestion.

        Link is the answer. Frequency reduces waits. In resilient transit cities with short headways and waits, riders willingly make two transfers. Routes 302, 303, and 322 seem quite transfer-adverse; will riders like their indirect loopy pathways as they serve multiple institutions? Or will they choose Link and transfers from and to the First Hill network: streetcar and routes 2, 3, 4, 12, and 60? The long and varied shifts of First Hill workers do not fit the narrow span of one-way peak-only routes.

        The CT 400 series routes, Route 510, and routes 64, 302, 303, 320, and 322 will have to use the very congested I-5 general-purpose lanes for one deadhead or both deadhead trips.

        The several I-5 interchanges downtown have significant congestion. Not all have direct connections with the reversible lanes. the routes using Cherry Street have a long distribution loop.

      3. Ah, I didn’t realize how congested Boren was. I’ve wondered why they make that hop off of Boren.

        I’ve definitely thought that things would be prefect if Metro ran a very frequent (think 5 minutes) peak shuttle bus from CHS that runs on 12th to not be stuck behind the slow streetcar. Off-peak 10-minute frequency to match Link would be fine, but the question is
        1. whether Metro really has the appetite to run a consolidated first hill bus so frequently that the transfer isn’t much of an impediment,
        2. how well that would work in practice (would buses bunch and delay each other, could they arm-twist some bus lanes etc), with peak expresses having the advantage of being a known quantity, and
        3. would riders recognize that the route whatever-it’s-called is actually a very frequent bus meant to bridge Link. Maybe riders burned with a bad transfer experience to the 3 or 4, or (even worse) the streetcar just wouldn’t trust it.

        I think more about FH since for SLU, Link is literally the answer eventually, and the streetcar and buses to First Hill from downtown (3 & 4 on James specifically) are particularly bad. FH was really screwed by ST when Link was moved away and it’s not clear that it will ever be rectified (the FHSC is a joke)

      4. We’ll see how people vote with their feet. If they don’t use the SLU/First Hill segments much, it will be easier to argue for eliminating them later, or they might go away in the next recession. A similar thing happened with the 10: it was rerouted to Olive/John to preserve some frequent service there, but a lot of people responded by switching to the 11, which was still on Pine. Similarly, some of the people assumed to remain on those expresses might switch to Link at Northgate or Roosevelt. Several of the routes are being structured so they can make that choice, and others can also transfer to them at those stations.

      5. The routing of the First Hill Street Car is terrible, but the section on Broadway is fine. What it needs is another bus on Broadway. Run them both every 10 minutes, which means 5 minute frequency (all day). The 60 sort-of does that.

        I would add a bus on Boren, from Mount Baker to South Lake Union. Yes, it would be stuck in traffic during rush hour. That is a tiny period for the route, and other buses (the 8, the 44) struggled with traffic as well. Ideally you would make improvements, even small ones, to allow the bus to go faster (which is what they did for both the 8 and 44). I would run that bus, and then straighten out the 60. I would also combine the 60 with the 49 (to save money). All of that should happen after Rapid Ride G (Madison BRT).

        Running buses from Link Stations (Northgate and Roosevelt) and then to places like South Lake Union and First Hill is a terrible value. We simply can’t afford it. You end up spending a lot of money reproducing the trip that Link provides. The people who are actually avoiding a three-seat ride is relatively small. That’s why buses like the 309 perform poorly compared to other routes. That is before it will compete with Link.

        Jarrett Walker talks about Diversity, not Specialization ( This is the opposite. It serves a highly specialized set of travelers, or it is simply an alternative for those who would otherwise take the far more diverse Link.

    3. The freeway station could still be a carpool/vanpool pick&drop facility. I don’t think anyone would use those station lanes to cheat, given they would have a good chance of getting stuck behind a boarding/deboarding car/van.

      1. @brent I had the same thought. But the cons would be vehicles idling or potentially breaking down. There’s just a single lane going through. Plus, anyone travelling through (both NB and SB) would run into another station beforehand.

    4. It could be useful for private buses. I could see casino buses, Bolt buses and maybe other kinds of buses loading and unloading people there. Still, Lynnwood is better for layovers although this is better for quick drop-offs.

      Over time, maintenance will become an issue. Unless the stop has a prominent new niche it will serve, I expect it to be closed to the public for security and maintenance reasons (like eventually needing repairs to the facility components).

      1. Let’s not encourage private busses using public transit facilities. Especially since it is illegal. Unauthorized use of transit facilities is a gross misdemeanor. Honestly the Microsoft busses should be kicked out of various Eastside transit facilities for the same reason. Public facilities for public transit. Keep the private charters and contractors out of that space.

      2. “ Let’s not encourage private busses using public transit facilities.”

        Uhhhh… Almost every private shuttle I’m aware of stops at a public transit facility. Sometimes it’s an on-street or on-freeway stop and sometimes it’s a transit center. That seems like a silly declaration.

      3. Let’s not encourage private busses using public transit facilities. Especially since it is illegal.
        It’s a dumb law, created for the protection of the public sector unions, and actively harmful to riders. Let the public and private networks connect whenever and wherever they can. Don’t make travel difficult for riders just because they happen to arrive or depart on a private bus.

      4. It is not a dumb law. Buses that serve everyone should not have to yield to buses that serve a privileged few. Even contractors can’t ride the Microsoft bus — why should a Metro bus have to wait for it to clear the bus stop.

        What I’m talking about is not a bus stop. That is the point. This is a spot that would otherwise be empty — no longer a public transit facility. A white elephant, as Mike put it. Might as well get some use out of it, even if that is a private shuttle.

      5. Al S. while they may do so, they do not do it legally. This is a fight I am very familiar with, as I live near the airport. To date, only Amazon and Microsoft have permission, and only at select locations. Any other company that does is violating the law and deserves to be put out of business.

        If I had my way Amazon, Microsoft, First Transit, Hopelink, and the like would all be kicked out of public transit facilities. But for now their use is technically authorized (albeit under the flimsiest of pretenses) so they get to stay.

      6. Private buses keep cars off the road too. That’s a far bigger benefit for public and the environment than the little space they take up stopping. Nobody is talking about so many of them that they crowd out public buses. The Mountlake Terrace station will have no or almost no public buses when Link reaches Lynnwood, so there will be plenty of capacity with nobody else to use it.

        Having Greyhound stop at freeway stations like Mountlake Terrace and Eastgate isn’t a bad idea. It’s quasi public transportation — people aren’t driving their own car — and there’s no public bus it’s competing with. And Greyhound would be there for 1 out of 1440 hours per day.

      7. “Lynnwood is better for layovers although this is better for quick drop-offs.” – I think that’s exactly the use case; any long-haul bus that isn’t starting/ending in SW Snohomish would be better off using the MT freeway stop rather than exiting the freeway to serve a TC. It will be the preferred stop for nearly all riders between the Ship Canal and Everett while having minimal impact on through riders.

        I think there is value in managing public curb space, whether it’s a parking spot or a bus stop. There is also value in treating different service providers differently. For example, a long-haul bus needs longer idle time to load luggage, and an hourly bus will wait for a departure time while a frequent bus will depart as soon as everyone is boarded. So I would disagree with the position “there’s no public bus it’s competing with” if there is curb congestion. For example, the Eastgate freeway ramp gets congested during peak hours, with STX and KCM buses having to wait for load/unload. I wouldn’t want a Greyhound bus to take up that scarce curb space at 5.30pm, but I’d be OK with Greyhound stopping there at noon. I believe this is how KCM currently permits shared stops – the tech shuttles can only use KCM stops if the data confirms the shuttles don’t interfere with KCM operations. I would wage Eastgate freeway station wouldn’t pass muster.

        This is why the Mountlake Terrace stop become intriguing after Lynnwood Link opens – only once the frequent (CT, ST) routes stop serving it does it becomes available for various long-haul providers to use. Similarly, I’ve thought the S Bellevue transit center might be a new node for long-haul routes, but only if there are available bus bays to rent out to Greyhound, Snoqualmie Casino, etc.

        I’m not worried about maintenance – I believe the freeway station are owned by WSDOT so WSDOT is responsible for long term maintenance. ST just wrote the check for the initial build, but SOGR spend falls to WSDOT.

      8. I think we are talking about two different things. First, there is the Mountlake Terrace freeway stop. It is quite possible that after Lynnwood Link, not a single public bus uses it any more. At that point, it is essentially not a public bus stop. You might as well allow for other uses, such as private buses. I could also see it being used by vanpools and carpools. For that matter, they may decide to just open it up completely, which would mean taxi-cabs could use it. I’m not saying that is the best approach, but it is reasonable.

        But *in general* it is a bad idea to give away public space (like a bus stop) to a private bus operator. Yes, these get people out of their cars, but they screw up the public service that more people depend on. By its very nature, the private bus companies are not fighting for riders. If I have to walk a couple blocks to pick up an express bus to work — with very comfortable seating, and fast WiFi — then I’ll do it. On the other hand, every minute the bus is late, it loses a rider.

        Would you want private buses on Third Avenue? How about vanpools and carpools? What about the new BRT on Madison. Is it OK if a private bus drives on it, and then lets people off in the center lane?

        That would be like getting rid of parking zones for schools buses. Allow parents to drop off and pick up there kids willy-nilly. I think we all agree that would be a complete mess, which is why the city doesn’t allow that.

        Of course there are exceptions. If you have a bus stop that is rarely used, and a private bus that has quick pick-up and drop-off, there is little harm. I would still charge and negotiate for that privilege though. Sign short term contracts (a year or two) with the private companies, and if things get too busy, kick them out.

      9. Yes, I agree with Ross. Private shuttles stopping at public stops should be allowed — but only in context. The issue I have is when stops are treated with absolute rules forbidding them. After all, ride hailing services and personal drop offs often use public stops.

        And if no public bus will be stopping in the I-5 median at Mountlake Terrace, of course WSDOT would close it to the public. It’s existence compromises the freeway safety by making it easier for someone to walk into travel lanes. If it closes to the public, the elevator can be closed when needed — and the elevators are a major ongoing expense.

        The legal challenge of leaving it open for private transit seems like it’s most future usefulness. Doing that does create a whole new set of issues. Toll any vehicle that uses it with a transponder to recoup maintenance costs? Transfer the ownership to a tribe? Rent the structure surface for advertising?

        It seems destined to be an albatross (closed to the public) unless a new niche service could use it.

      10. “the tech shuttles can only use KCM stops if the data confirms the shuttles don’t interfere with KCM operations.”

        This is untrue. During the evening rush hours on the Eastside, Microsoft shuttles clog nearby park and rides to the point that busses can’t even get in, backing them up into the street. They do interfere with KCM and ST operations. At least they did in the before times. There’s no reason to believe that will change post-pandemic though.

      11. My guess is eastside cities figure if Microsoft and Amazon are going to fund extra transit why refuse, since many of these employees don’t want to take public transit, or public transit is inconvenient for them or where they need to go, and their incomes make waiting for public transit and the many stops impractical.

        Plus if you are on the eastside first/last mile access to public transit can be a huge waste of time, and “public transit” on Metro generally is so slow and frustrating to where these folks are going folks will drive instead if they can, and these folks can.

        I guess the alternative is building a 3 million sf parking garage at Microsoft especially if traffic congestion is not bad post pandemic, or Amazon’s massive parking garage on the eastside, or more likely working from home.

        Forcing folks onto public transit who have better options that cost the taxpayer nothing is more about class warfare than transit. If their private shuttles disappear they will drive, and if the public ROW is eliminated they will simply find another private location for maybe a modest fee. Or demand Metro actually serve their location with real frequency. Eliminating access to public ROW’s isn’t going to force these workers onto public transit.

        I wish more private employers funded their own transit, and I see no problem with them using public ROW’s. After all, they use the roads too, as does transit although public transit does not pay for the roads.

      12. “I’m not worried about maintenance – I believe the freeway station are owned by WSDOT so WSDOT is responsible for long term maintenance. ST just wrote the check for the initial build, but SOGR spend falls to WSDOT.”

        I don’t think that’s right. While WSDOT owns the asset I believe there is an agreement in place putting the burden of ongoing maintenance on ST. Also, ST didn’t pay for the station by itself; the project was also funded by WSDOT, the FTA and a big fat grant from ARRA (nice timing on that btw). See the links below for the funding mix.

        As a reminder, this facility, i.e., the MT freeway bus station, was a Sound Move promised and voter-approved project. Like most of Sound Move projects, it was delivered late and over budget.

        Here are a couple of links to pieces announcing the opening of the facility back in 2011:

        Here’s the old project page retrieved using the wayback machine:

        Hopefully the facility can be repurposed. It would be a shame to waste the capital investment for such a short period of use.

      13. “I wish more private employers funded their own transit, and I see no problem with them using public ROW’s. After all, they use the roads too…”

        Sure, but private employers don’t really pay for the roads, at least not to the extent that they use them (especially freight companies and large employee tech companies), and more importantly they don’t pay for the public transit system, either the busses/trains themselves or the transit centers. They’re freeloaders on the system, taking more than they are paying. This type of behavior absolutely should not be encouraged, and needs to be disincentivized.

      14. “Sure, but private employers don’t really pay for the roads, at least not to the extent that they use them (especially freight companies and large employee tech companies), and more importantly they don’t pay for the public transit system, either the busses/trains themselves or the transit centers.”

        So A Joy, are you saying Microsoft does not pay sales/use tax or property taxes in WA state? What do you think Microsoft’s B&O tax is? Or its employees don’t pay car tab fees? If anything Microsoft pays a disproportionate amount of taxes for roads and transit for what it gets. Transit certainly does not pay for the roads.

        Same for Metro. If fares pay 40% of ST and 20% of Metro someone else is paying the rest (including bridges and roads) with general fund tax revenues, mostly property, sales and vehicle taxes.

        When it comes to freight of other heavy vehicles WA charges a weight tax., although I agree the fee may not be commensurate the damage to the roads for some trucks. But moving freight (i.e. the goods and services we all need plus very good paying union jobs at the Port and in freight handling) is a public good just like transit, probably more critical to society. In fact, studies show buses cause the most wear and tear on roads per vehicle.

        Transit is the “freeloader”, but as a public good it is subsidized, mostly by those who don’t use it. It isn’t cheap to build enough road capacity to meet peak traffic — and please no demands for road diets, or we have all the people with the money subsidizing transit give up their cars — and pre-pandemic I would agree cars “don’t scale” during peak hours although folks still prefer to drive to work if they can afford it (plus the 20% parking tax also designed to subsidize transit), so if large employers want to pay for their own shuttles on their own dime when our bus system — especially on the eastside — is maxed out and can’t possibly cover East King Co. with any kind of frequency fine by me.

        In fact, the private shuttles are just another subsidy for public transit, in part because public transit isn’t all that good, at least where these workers want to go at their wage. Are the private shuttles a form of privilege? Of course, and I suppose it says to many that wealthy tech employees don’t want to ride public transit for many reasons, but so does driving.

        We are not trying to even out the wealth disparity in society with transit, or any kind of transportation. We are trying to get people and goods from A to B, based on their incomes, and like everything else in this country the mode from A to B is better the more money you have.

        But if shuttles leave more money for public transit then it helps those folks too, even though the shuttle riders are basically saying they don’t want to take public transit. But drivers say that same thing every day, for many different reasons, mostly safety and convenience and the cost of their time, although I think a lot of transit riders take it to mean them personally, or the folks on public transit.

      15. “So A Joy, are you saying Microsoft does not pay sales/use tax or property taxes in WA state? What do you think Microsoft’s B&O tax is? Or its employees don’t pay car tab fees?”

        Pretty much, yes. Microsoft does pay property taxes, but not much in the way of sales tax, since they are a producer, not a consumer. They route sales through their Reno, Nevada office to dodge state taxes. They hide the amount they pay in B&O taxes, but in 2017 paid only 30 million dollars in all other state and local taxes combined.

        The taxes and fees Microsoft and Amazon employees pay is irrelevant. We’re talking about the amount the businesses themselves pay. Offloading that cost onto their employees only proves the point of the companies being freeloaders even more.

        “But drivers say that same thing every day, for many different reasons, mostly safety…”

        You really can’t help but insert that tangential unsubstantiated claim every chance you get, can you? It’s tired, and you have yet to try and support it with any kind of facts. Give it up. It’s making you look bad at this point.

      16. A Joy, I wrote:

        “But drivers say that same thing every day, for many different reasons, mostly safety and convenience and the cost of their time, although I think a lot of transit riders take it to mean them personally, or the folks on public transit.”

        You of course seize only on the safety part, because you take it personally. But if you don’t think the reason many people drive rather than take public transit is because of safety, especially at night, you are deluding yourself.

      17. “You of course seize only on the safety part, because you take it personally. But if you don’t think the reason many people drive rather than take public transit is because of safety, especially at night, you are deluding yourself.”

        I’m not the one who tries to insert the claim into well over 50% of the comment threads they post on here. Even if the topic has nothing to do with safety.

        And if I am that delusional, it should be easy to provide statistical evidence to support your claim, rather than resorting to anecdotal evidence and ad hominem attacks.

        Put up, or please shut up.


        I could go on.

      19. @Daniel Thompson: Did you look at any of these reports?

        First one: “The relationship between ridership and crime remains inconclusive.”

        Second: “…the studies do not give a firm answer…”

        Third: “The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors…”

        “This pilot project explored the use of data-driven tools to (1) identify concentrations of criminal activity near transit facilities, and (2) assist decision-making regarding the selection of countermeasures and the allocation of future safety investments, using the results of models estimating environmental and socioeconomic predictors of crime near transit facilities.”

        Nowhere in there does it indicate higher rates of crime correlate to reduced mass transit usage. It doesn’t even study it.

        Fourth: “The largest direct influences on feelings of safety on public transport were trust in others and feeling safe in one’s home or on the street at night.”

        Note all four of these elements are factors that also apply to those in private vehicles. None of them are specific to mass transit whatsoever. I mean, fear of safety in one’s home? Does the nature of one’s house change depending upon what form of transportation they use?

        Five: “The results confirm the hypothesis of higher perceived safety at stations being positively associated with public transport mode choice, however at a smaller magnitude than that of the service characteristics in terms of service frequency.”

        We’ll come back to this one later.

        Six: “The report examines transit security problems in the following areas: crimes against passengers and employees ; crimes involving revenues, including fare evasion by patrons and revenue theft by employees; and crimes against transit property, including vandalism and graffiti.”

        Once again, it does not even study the specific issue.

        Back to study five. The key term here is “perceived safety”. You see, transit riders are more safe in terms of any violent crime than automobile drivers are.

        “Transit also tends to have lower overall crime rates than automobile travel…”

        “Using FBI data, Litman also busts the myth that transit is linked to high levels of crime. While direct comparison is difficult because transit riders and drivers are susceptible to different types of crimes (transit riders are more likely to encounter assault and property theft, while drivers see more to road rage incidents, vehicular assault, and auto theft), Litman shows that on balance, people riding transit are less likely to be victimized than car drivers, passengers, and owners.”

        So you see, mass transit is safer in every category of crime against people than automobiles are. It is only those with an aberrant sense of safety that are dissuaded from mass transit for reasons of safety. You’re pointing at a handful of pearl clutchers and claiming they are the typical person. They aren’t. Not a single source you cited supports your theory. And there are sources that directly contradict your theory, using much larger statistical samples than the ones you used.

    5. I’ve always thought the Mountlake Terrace freeway station would only be useful for a few years and then become a white elephant.

      The feeder routes that might serve Mountlake Terrace Station come from Edmonds and Brier, so they’re not on I-5.

      1. It could be very useful for these routes to stop at MLT and then head south to Shoreline, giving the one-seat ride to light rail that everyone in Snohomish County should have once the system reaches Everett

    6. I could see some of the airport buses using it. Belair, Quikshuttle, San Juan Airporter, etc. Maybe even Cascades buses.

      1. Yeah, I could see Greyhound (and other intercity buses) using it. I could also see private companies using it. For example, Google has an office in Fremont, and I could definitely see them running an express from the north end. It wouldn’t be a free for all, like with carpools, but different companies would have to have a special permit to use the stop (which means only professional drivers use it).

        Or it just becomes a white elephant, like Mike said. Hard to say what will happen.

      2. Yeah I see its future being intercity routes and private shuttles. Community Transit might not use it at all, but it will still be a useful piece of the Snohomish transit system.

      3. I don’t see the clusterfuck at Northgate where the HOV lanes end and the express lanes start going away any time soon. On one or two trips, I probably could have saved an hour or more (in one case definitely two hours) by getting off the Amtrak or Belair bus I was on at that point and transferring to Link. The airport and Amtrak buses in particular since Link goes right by their destination.

        Greyhound and a few others are a little more questionable due to the ultimate destination being a bit more varied.

  5. Does anyone have numbers on how much this reduces commute times? I’m curious how long it currently takes for the CT buses to get from Northgate to the U district.

    1. [ah]

      The existing schedule for peak hour 800-series buses which stop at MLT Freeway Station is 22-24 minutes from there to Stevens and Memorial.

      The new schedules say 14-15 minutes to Northgate from MLTFS, and Link will take about seven minutes to HSS, so the time in vehicles is essentially identical. The transfer will, on average add about six minutes, so the overall trip will be scheduled about 25% longer.

      However, travel times will be more reliable, especially in the afternoon when congestion is much worse.


      1. The interesting thing is that traffic is worse when going in reverse peak direction. So while riders it may be a wash on an 800 bus, it will be a lot faster for those heading downtown in the evening on the 512.

        But the big benefit comes from all of the extra stops. The 512 stops at the freeway station on 45th. This is a long walk from anywhere. While Link only has two stops in the U-District, at least they are decent stops (with the one at 45th and Brooklyn being outstanding). That means that riders are likely taking the same number of transfers anyway (although riders will still have to walk a long ways to Campus Parkway).

  6. Transferring at Northgate to Metro route 40 to get to Fremont is the long way around. So is catching Metro route 67 from Northgate to the U Village.

    Catching the 1 Line down to U-District Station, and taking the newly-straightened routes 31 or 32, whichever comes first, will surely be faster, in both cases. That is, they will be faster than taking a bus from Northgate Station. The previous path from an 800-series bus, transferring to a 31/32 in the U District, might turn out to be slightly faster than the new 3-seat ride from Snohomish County to Fremont (or 4-seat ride, since many riders need to get a local CT bus to get to the park&rides around which the CT 800-series routes and ST Express routes 511-513 are designed).

    1. It will be interesting to see what happens to ridership on the 67, since a few of its trip generators (Northgate to Roosevelt, Northgate to U-District, etc.) could be replaced by Link.

      Overall, I think it will be a wash. Ridership is much higher south of 65th than north of it. Longer trips make up a small portion of the ridership. It will lose some longer rides to Link, but it will likely gain some rides on Roosevelt (and Northgate Way) as people use it for a feeder. But the most part, I think it will be about the same.

      1. Yeah, I think it is more crooked than ever. Westbound it used to go from Campus Parkway all the across on 40th until Wallingford ( Now from the Ave it will go left, right, left, right to get to Wallingford ( Eastbound looks to be the same number of turns (more or less).

        I understand why they did that, and the problem stems from the lack of a station at Campus Parkway. Such a station would make sense for pedestrians — you would have half-mile stop spacing — fine for an urban area. For buses, it would make things a lot easier, making up for the poor placement of the Husky Stadium station. That would improve the Link-Fremont connection, and some other bus would run on 45th to Children’s Hospital.

  7. Everett-UW customers are the biggest losers-and have been the most vocal-in the new changes. For some reason, ST never had direct service from Everett to UW like they do from several points in the system. So many people have been taking the 532 to Ash Way and then CT to the UW. Due to the changes, they’re forced to make DOUBLE transfer (510 to MLT, 511 to NG and the Link). I feel sorry for them because Sound Transit truly failed their constituents in lower income Everett.

    I think ST should redesign the 513, which is a poorly productive route, so it would travel from Everett Station>S. Everett>Northgate.

    1. The other alternative is to just run the 512 during rush hour (peak direction). The current setup (where the 510 and 512 don’t run at the same time) makes sense, since both the 510 and 512 go downtown. Now, with the 512 serving Northgate, and the 510 connecting to downtown, it might be worth it to just run the 512 all the time.

      Then again, we may be talking about very few riders. Furthermore, the 510 is still very much an express. It makes no stops from South Everett to Mountlake Terrace. In contrast, the 512 stops at Ash Way and Lynnwood in between. Ash Way is especially slow to serve during rush hour, since it doesn’t have HOV ramps heading north. So while making two transfers to get to the UW is annoying, it should actually be faster than taking the 512 (or 513 for that matter) during rush hour. It is also about as painless a transfer as there (same stop, without much waiting).

      1. Extending the 511 seems more straightforward.

        Yeah, that would work too. You can extend the 511, or just run the 512 during peak. Of course if you extend the 511, then it is the 512, which means that you might as well keep the different numbers (since you probably don’t want to extend every 511). Right?

      2. @alexkven An extension of the 511 to Everett would simply end up being the 512. Even though it would be a few extra stops, getting on/off the freeway at Ash Way is a major pain (especially NB). Plus looping through LTC would add some time as well. Everett riders would lose their express trip to downtown on what is already a long trip (also keep in mind the 510 is used by people even further north and east like Snohomish and Marysville).

        Eastmont and Seaway have pretty low usage. ST really needs to reconsider other purposes for the 513.

      3. Everett riders would lose their express trip to downtown

        No one is suggesting that. They just want the 512 to run peak direction during rush hour *along with* the 510. Converting some of the 511 buses to 512 buses is relatively cheap (and what Alex is getting at). Additional money could come from running fewer 513 buses, since they perform poorly.

        I think I would try and time it so that the 512 leaves right after a 510, just so that the bus doesn’t have a lot of Everett-downtown Seattle riders when it hits Ash Way, etc. Only riders heading to Link locations (e. g. UW) would use the 512.

      4. Yeah, not proposing getting rid of the 510 (except maybe the MLT stop, as marginal of an effect it may have). How to pay for this would be another discussion.

        Maybe the 511 could skip Ash Way P&R? It’s probably not that important for both buses to stop there. The one thing it has going for it is the direct access ramp, but that’s only in the southbound direction.

        I’m not familiar at all with 513 ridership, but it seems like a reasonable coverage connection. It’s pretty common for a slower-than-usual express bus to pick up lower ridership stops that wouldn’t otherwise have a bus (especially in Everett, where CT doesn’t run any buses except for some connections into Snohomish County and Swift). In the case of the 513, it seems like a great candidate for a freeway station on SR 526 at 99 since the ramps are well suited for it, and this would make the bus significantly faster. The Swift stops could also be moved to the north side of Casino rd to facilitate connections. Honestly it doesn’t look very wasteful in comparison to the web of very expensive peak trippers that CT operates out of the County’s transit budget!

      5. Maybe the 511 could skip Ash Way P&R? It’s probably not that important for both buses to stop there.

        That is the old routing, and it performs poorly. Very few people ride the 513. They could kill it, but as you wrote, there is value from a coverage standpoint. So they just extended a few of the 511 buses, and called it a 513. This makes it much cheaper to operate, even though riders will be delayed a bit.

        Similarly, you could come up with an Everett to Northgate bus and run it during rush hour. It could skip Ash Way, like the old 513. But it still wouldn’t get full, since even the 510 doesn’t get full.

        If we are going to do it, it makes sense to just run a few 512 buses up there. From a service standpoint, these are essentially just extensions of the 511. In other words, every half hour or so, during rush hour, just replace a 511 with a 512. Riders from Ash Way (and places south) don’t care, while riders from Everett would avoid a transfer. The only potential problem is if the 512 is too crowded (with extra riders coming from Everett). I really don’t see that, as I don’t see that many riders preferring the 512 over the 510. Speaking of which:

        For some reason, ST never had direct service from Everett to UW like they do from several points in the system. So many people have been taking the 532 to Ash Way and then CT to the UW.

        I wouldn’t say many. Northbound, only 28 people a day boarded at Ash Way, headed to Everett. Southbound, there were only 16 riders getting off at Ash Way. While this might add value, it may also simply not be worth it. Reference:

    2. I’m curious why there was no thought of having route 512 start to serve a stop close to Mariner P&R, enabling a transfer point to the SWIFT Green Line, enabling a fairly quick trip to Seaway Transit Center / Paine Field. Or is Paine Field really not a popular destination yet (perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy since the regional connections to get there are not terribly direct).

      1. Great, thanks. I also just discovered that Metro has the new schedules as well, and they are showing up as the default. This may be a mistake — they may have accidentally jumped the gun. Read the fine print I guess (“Effective 10-02-21 thru 03-18-22”). Great for viewing the future plans though.

        Note: I also like the new style. Great font, colors and layout. It is a subtle change, but I like it. For example:

      2. Update: Metro is back to showing their current schedule, not their future one. My guess is someone flipped the switch too early. I bet there was more than one confused rider.

        I got a bunch of “future routes” but not the 44. I’m curious how often it will run.

      3. As a former daily route 44 rider, I too am curious as to what the planned frequency is for this particular route going forward. Hopefully the corridor improvements announced earlier this year by SDOT/Metro prove fruitful as well.

  8. This passage was a bit sloppy: “Refocused commuter routes, including routes 303, 320, and 322 will provide service from north King County to Northgate Station and Downtown via Link, then these buses will get on I-5 express lanes to major employment centers in First Hill and South Lake Union, instead of their current route of driving to Downtown.” Route 303 is not refocused; it is much the same; new Route 302 joins it. Routes 320 and 322 have the advantage of NOT serving two peak markets; former routes 63, 64, and 309 served both SLU and First Hill, and only the former well. Revised Route 301 is brilliant; it become two-way and peak-only. It is too bad that was not done to routes 303 and 304 as well. Is CT making their 800 series two-way?

    In the 90s, agencies studied several center access ramps that were not funded by either the state or ST. Candidates reversible connections to the U District were studied at NE 50th Street and NE 42nd Street. CT could have had service reliability for two decades.

    1. It is obvious that the plans for more peak express service between Northgate and SLU were drawn up before COVID hit and nobody ever bothered to revise them since. One would think that with most Amazon workers still working from home, routes like this would be among the first to be reconsidered.

      For First Hill commuters, it’s not obvious that a Northgate->SLU->First Hill express would even be any faster than just riding Link and transferring at either Capitol Hill Station or University St. Station. The I-5 express lanes may be fast, but everything the bus has to slog through once it gets off of I-5 will be anything but fast. Especially in a scenario where COVID ends and offices return to full occupancy, I believe Metro is essentially providing a boutique one-seat that’s slower than the two-seat ride that’s it’s standard service.

      Of course, a First Hill->SLU bus is still needed. But, it needs to be part of the frequent, all-day network, oriented around local trips, not through a route that runs only during rush hour, only in one direction, and arrives at unpredictable times depending on freeway traffic far away from that area.

      1. Of course, a First Hill->SLU bus is still needed. But, it needs to be part of the frequent, all-day network, oriented around local trips, not through a route that runs only during rush hour, only in one direction, and arrives at unpredictable times depending on freeway traffic far away from that area.

        Exactly. Such a bus would be far more useful. Not only to people who take a one-seat ride, but for people who transfer as well.

        That is one of the big problems with these express routes. They really don’t help the network. I doubt very many people will take a bus to Roosevelt, and then transfer to the 322. Unless, of course, they are simply heading downtown and don’t want to bother with the train. At best this poaches Link, at worst it is a highly specialized route that does nothing for the network.

        In contrast, imagine if the 60 runs twice as often during rush hour. This means riders getting off at Capitol Hill have a fast connection to the exact same places. But it also means that lots of other riders have a much faster trip. This includes people from Beacon Hill and other neighborhoods, but also people who transfer. You might be coming from Rainier Valley, on the 7, and want to head up the hill. Suddenly everything is much better.

        I’m not saying that is where I would put the money, but it shows the network advantage of increasing service on buses like the 60. These routes don’t have that.

      2. I think Metro is just playing it safe and not making too many assumptions about what people will do or how reasonable transferring from Link to SLU or First Hill will be. That all depends on traffic and reliability of the last-mile buses. The 2, 3, and 4 are especially bad. The 2 and 12 will be fixed when RapidRide G replaces them in about five years, so maybe that will be an opportunity to delete the First Hill expresses.

        It’s a continuum and a judgment call how many of the express buses to truncate or redirect to downtown-adjacent neighborhoods. Metro isn’t as aggressive as we’d like but it’s more aggressive than it was before 2012 or 2016. So it’s getting better over time, even if it sometimes takes a step backward. Everyone just needs to work together and help each other; this means the public, transit agencies, and governments. We don’t always get everything we want but we can at least kick it toward the right direction and hope it improves more later.

        Transit fans begged Metro for years to move some downtown peak expresses to adjacent neighborhoods so they wouldn’t overlap so much with Link. That is a transit best-practices principle that works in some cases Several years later, Metro is finally doing it. But instead of saying, “Great, thanks”, we berate Metro for doing it. Transit agencies are always getting lambasted on both sides if they do something or don’t do something.

      3. When it comes to continuing express buses to downtown Seattle after Northgate Link (or East Link) opens I think it was AJ who said play it by ear. If truncation is better for the peak commuter they will transfer to Link and ridership on the express buses will evaporate. Then cancel those express buses.

        But there is always a lag time for people to get use to something new. Peak work commuters have to be somewhere by a time certain, which makes them anxious and testy. They have routines.

        Give them a chance to determine whether transferring to Link is better or not. If it isn’t then that probably means inadequate frequency for peak feeder buses to Link when including a transfer (or annoyance at stopping at the UW and Capitol Hill along the way) so increase that frequency to see if that encourages more transfers to Link, even though in the end increased frequency for feeder buses during peak hours will probably consume some of the savings from cancelling express buses to Seattle.

        It could be the peak commuter is a thing of the past, and Metro no longer has to worry about the peak rider. Ridership will tell that, and right now it is too soon. For example, the 554 might be very popular post pandemic (or empty), but because peak riders are going to Bellevue, or taking Link east from S. Bellevue, in which case Mercer Island will be a very lonely bus intercept. The routing of the 554 suggests to Metro is thinking that.

        If Northgate Link and East Link are suppose to be two grand openings after some tough times and the realignment, and ouster of Rogoff, the last thing you want is pissed off commuters forced onto Link too early claiming loudly Link sucks, because those folks will be much louder than those who find Link an improvement.

        Link is not all positives for a work commuter, and many bloggers on transit and urbanist blogs don’t strike me as peak work commuters . It begins with a feeder bus in many areas, includes a transfer which means fighting for a second seat and second wait, and a number of stops where you are not going if you work downtown.

        Make sure feeder bus frequency is there. I think running express buses at the same time in the beginning is a good thing, because it will force Metro and ST to work harder to make it advantageous for those peak riders to use Link, and a feeder bus, despite the drawbacks of a transfer. Because the other option is the peak commuter does not return, and that causes some funding issues, which ST and Metro don’t need right now. Eliminating express peak buses might not be all good if they are cancelled because the peak commuter isn’t going downtown anymore.

      4. Daniel, you have a point about waiting . The beauty of bus service is that it is flexible.

        I conceptually would endorse a “post opening restructure” to be scheduled after a Link station is open for a year or two. People are generally reluctant to change (especially after years of habitual use) until they see how their travel can be improved significantly. Using Link is a behavioral path change, and a segment of the users will fight hard to keep things like they were in the past until they try something new. I would guess that the fighting about service changes will diminish greatly once Link service begins.

        It’s that same mindset that plays out in other ways too. It’s a big driver in the Mercer Island controversy. I honestly believe that the number of buses stopping in Mercer Island could double without registering any significant concern among the residents once Link opens and everyone can see what the reality of transferring activity will be, for example.

        An issue that I think gets too little focused discussion is station access. Can buses turn around? Where will a spouse wait for an exiting train rider? Can a panhandler block the path? Will an overnight homeless tent block the path? Should a station exit in a way that forces an at-grade crossing of a congested high-speed highway? Does the lack of real-time arrival signs create anxiety about missing a train? Is the path to and from the platform fully lighted and well maintained? Is there a role for private concessions as a way to provide additional monitoring of these spaces, making them less prone to assaults? Are the Orca readers in the right places? Unlike bus service, this topic takes advance consideration because it has to be reflected in the station design — and it’s much more difficult and costlier to fix once the station opens.

      5. Al, I think the controversy and litigation over the bus intercept on MI is somewhat moot from the pandemic, WFH, and Metro restructure on the eastside.

        Actually I don’t think Mercer Island could handle more than one articulated bus every three minutes, which is the frequency under the optimal configuration for the bus intercept.

        If a full articulated bus dropped off all its passengers on the north side of North Mercer Way every three minutes — or even more frequently as you suggest — it would basically shut down North Mercer Way as the passengers scramble across the street to access the train station, and vice versa in the evening.

        N. Mercer Way is the main east/west arterial on Mercer Island, and because of the quirks of I-90 people who live west of the town center must drive to the eastside of the town center to access I-90 eastbound, and those who live east and south must drive through the town center to access I-90 west bound.

        I believe Metro or more likely ST will continue express one seat peak buses to Seattle from the Issaquah region after East Link opens, because this is Issaquah, and if Issaquah got a $4.5 billion line to S. Kirkland it will get express buses to Seattle if the commuters demand it of the council.

        Plus when those commuters begin to fill up the S. Bellevue park and ride rather than catch a bus to the park and ride Bellevue will join Issaquah to demand express buses, and the new CEO isn’t going to want a fight with Issaquah and Bellevue when the money is there.

        Post pandemic there may be a small peak rush of buses on Mercer Island with commuters transferring to Link, but a lot fewer than ST estimated which led to the litigation. During non-peak hours there will be very few buses, fewer than today.

        The intercept on Mercer Island was flawed because it was a last minute change after East Link, the stations, and park and rides were planned or existed. It also made the same mistake ST has made over and over, and that is believing it can force riders to do something even if it is more inconvenient or slower for them, and that definitely is not the mindset of the peak Issaquah commuter.

        East Link will be a dramatic line across a lake and through some pretty undense areas, but it will definitely not change the eastside because the eastside just is not transit oriented, and likely won’t be for a long time, although I know a lot of folks who are stoked about the new electric F-150, although why you need a F-150 on the eastside I don’t know. Probably because you live on the eastside (and have a huge garage).

      6. I disagree that it’s moot, Daniel. It’s fear of unknown impacts that’s driving the Mercer Island issue. Some opposing residents have even sounded alarms that it would somehow increase crime on MI! If that isn’t trying to create fear of the unknown, nothing is. Even the other reasons they argue are generally speculative.

        All I’m saying is that public attitudes shift once a station opens. Let’s wait and see. It’s too late to change the station’s physical layout — so let’s all revisit MI and this restructure in 2024 or 2025.

      7. “I disagree that it’s moot, Daniel. It’s fear of unknown impacts that’s driving the Mercer Island issue. Some opposing residents have even sounded alarms that it would somehow increase crime on MI! If that isn’t trying to create fear of the unknown, nothing is. Even the other reasons they argue are generally speculative.”

        The litigation continues. Mercer Island does not object to serving as an intercept for other cities, or to the round about on N. Mercer Way, but it does object to the intensity of the intercept, drop offs on the north side of N. Mercer Way, and serving as a bus layover area. It is ST that is seeking to breach the settlement agreement it drafted and signed in Nov. 2017. Like cost estimating in ST 3, ST has a very poor memory.

        Re: crime, crime always increases when you increase the number of people (e.g. a sporting event) and when you increase transit (e.g. 3rd Ave. in Seattle and just the need for ST increasing station security). The intercept is next to a residential neighborhood. But just as important is the cost of police, which MI estimates at two officers because ST security is so lame, which is a big cost for a small city, around $200,000/year ST refuses to pay.

        Post-pandemic ridership across the lake on East Link will likely be half of ST’s pre-pandemic estimates. I just don’t see the future need for 20 articulated buses per peak hour on Mercer Island. We will see.

  9. King County Metro is also restructuring their North King County network to leverage Link. Refocused commuter routes, including routes 303, 320, and 322 will provide service from north King County to Northgate Station and Downtown via Link, then these buses will get on I-5 express lanes to major employment centers in First Hill and South Lake Union, instead of their current route of driving to Downtown. Several other North King County Metro 300-series routes will truncate at Northgate Station with the tradeoff of increased frequency and longer operating hours of service.

    I don’t think that is an accurate assessment of what is actually happening. First of all — and I know this sounds like a quibble — but South Lake Union is downtown, and many consider First Hill to be downtown. So it is really that these buses are covering different parts of downtown. It would be like if the E split into three versions, with a bus going to downtown the way it does now, and another one cutting over to 5th, and the third going down 8th. These really aren’t providing any new coverage — they are going downtown a different way, so that peak riders don’t have to bother taking the train.

    More importantly, there is little in the way of “increased frequency and longer operating hours of service”. For example, the 65 and 67 have unchanged routing. But frequency in the daytime drops from every 10 minutes, to every 15. Frequency is actually getting worse. The 75 used to run every 15 minutes — it isn’t changing. But now it takes over part of the 41, which used to run every 12 minutes midday. Again, frequency is getting worse on that section. This bears repeating: service from Lake City to Northgate will be significantly worse after this restructure.

    I don’t see any improvement on the weekends for those routes, and it looks to be a tiny bit worse in terms of operating hours. The 373 looks a little worse, but the 73 looks the same. The 20 takes over the other route from Lake City to Northgate (Northgate Way). This used to be done by the 75. It looks exactly the same. Likewise, the 345/346/347/348 looks the same most of the day.

    The only improvement seems to be during rush hour, and only for a few routes (like the 345/346/347/348). Where did all the service savings go?

    Towards those peak-only routes serving different parts of downtown. Metro has run buses like the 309 for a while now. They perform poorly compared to express buses like the 312 or 41. They also perform well below buses like the 65 and 75 (that never came close to downtown). Now Metro is doubling down on routes like this. They are spending a fortune on these express buses so that people won’t have to transfer. Instead of better all-day frequency, that enable a much better network serving variety of needs, they are giving it all to peak-only users making very specific trips.

    In contrast, ST is simply running the 522 more often, now that it is truncated at Roosevelt. They don’t have a special version that goes to Belltown. If you want to go to Belltown, you’ll have to walk, or transfer to buses running every few seconds (oh, the horror).

    1. The 67 and 65 haven’t had 10-minute frequency since 2019, and the transit benefit district that was funding the 10-minute boost was reduced in 2020. The 75’s lesser service on 125th/5th is unfortunate. But again that may be due to the TBD’s reduction. While the 125th/5th path to Northgate is being reduced, the 522 to Roosevelt is being created and getting a substantial frequency boost. While that doesn’t help people going specifically to Northgate, it helps people who want to get to any nearby Link station, which is our primary concern. The 522 also avoids snaking to Northgate and suffering the Northgate Way traffic, and will be 10 minutes daytime, 20 minutes Sundays. While ST is paying for it and Metro doesn’t have to do anything, a corollary is that if it weren’t there and weren’t as frequent, Metro might have to do something different.

      1. You are missing the point. Metro service is not getting better around Northgate. They aren’t putting the money into increased frequency, as the author wrote. They are putting the savings into peak-only express service to other parts of downtown.

        While ST is paying for it and Metro doesn’t have to do anything, a corollary is that if it weren’t there and weren’t as frequent, Metro might have to do something different.

        That suggests that Metro is saving even more money, which they could be dumping into making the routes more frequent. Except they aren’t.

        This is a very basic concept, that I’ve mentioned repeatedly to people. You truncate the buses, and then run them more often. It happens so often, that people just assume that is what they are doing. But they are not! This is a major failing, and needs to be called out.

        Oh, and the TBD service money is going to a bus in the area: the 20. This service merely allows the bus to get the frequency that the old 75 had, instead of running every half hour. Any way you cut it, there is no big bonanza of extra service going into local routes — despite the huge number of service hours that come from no longer running the 41 to downtown.

      2. @Rossb,

        So you are saying that Metro is “ failing, and needs to be called out”? Really?

        I rest my case. If this is the best that the experts at Metro can do, then why should ST be handing their planning efforts over to said “experts”?

        They shouldn’t.

      3. My recollection was that Metro stole service hours from the 41 and moved them down to the Kent/Renton area. The decision was a knee-jerk decision by the county council in reaction to the killing of George Floyd. They felt the need to do something to show their local BIPOC community they cared about them, and they decided to do it by shifting service hours away from North Seattle to South King, which has a higher BIPOC percentage of the population. That’s it. The fact that the land use in south king is terrible for transit and far fewer people ride transit over there than in North Seattle is irrelevant, and people of all ethnicities who live in Lake City are the ones being shoved under the bus by this.

        This is what happens when you have a county council that is more interested in political posturing than actually improving service for the most riders.

      4. Oh, and a large percent of the TBD money is going to mitigate the West Seattle Bridge closure, which didn’t exist when the 67 was 10-minute frequency. Even the 128 is frequent midday starting next week, and the C, 50, 60, and 120 are getting more runs. If the bridge is repaired in the next few years that money will be available for other service.

      5. @asdf2 — That is another myth. Yes, the city isn’t spending as much money on transit. Yes, there was a shift to the south end.

        But the big reason that we aren’t running more buses in the middle of the day in Northgate is because of the gigantic shift towards rush-hour express buses. These are extremely expensive to operate. They get stuck in traffic both directions. They spend a lot of time going through downtown, and a lot of time coming back.

        That wasn’t the original plan. At first, there was enough money for all of it (increased frequency in the middle of the day, and buses like the 61). Then things got cut, and the 61 went away. Frequency dropped on local routes, in the middle of the day. But they kept the very expensive express buses! They cut the wrong thing, and that’s why transit won’t be nearly as good as it should be in the area.

  10. My understanding is Metro didn’t reinvest the 41’s service hours, it just deleted them to fill a recession budget gap. Before that there were councilmembers saying that if the hours were recovered, they should go to South King County and southeast Seattle for equity. (That would be a policy change from previous restructures, which kept the hours in Metro’s subarea.) The 41’s 12-minute daytime and 15-minute evening frequency was boosted by Seattle’s TBD: before that it was 15 minutes daytime and 30 minutes evening. The hours for the peak expresses are coming from the existing peak expresses.

    I don’t understand how the 20N got connected to the 20S and their frequency equalized. An earlier proposal had a Northgate-UDistrict route that I thought would be 30 minutes. But after the U-District restructure there were complaints that when the 28 local was replaced by the 28 express, its midday frequency was reduced from 20 minutes to 30 minutes. So the increase may be to compensate for that, or there may be some lower-income areas along the route, or maybe it was on Metro’s underservice list.

    1. The hours for the peak expresses are coming from the existing peak expresses.

      Which is another way of saying it isn’t going into increased frequency. ST did it, Metro can do it. Just kill off the express buses, and put it into increased all-day frequency.

      The irony is, it fails miserably in terms of social justice goals. There are a lot of poor people in Lake City, and a lot of them work in retail. A lot of them don’t own cars, and need to do everything by bus. A route like the 61 dramatically increases their mobility. They can take a job in Greenwood, Phinney Ridge or Ballard, and not freak out about spending an hour on the bus each way. They can make trips to the clinic or store that don’t take forever. But instead, people will have worse service. The trip to Northgate will be worse, just as they add a Link station — how crazy is that. All so that we have peak-hour express buses to downtown.

      I understand a lot of the cuts are due to the lack of funding. But the first thing you do is kill off the express routes. If they had to make additional cuts, then I wouldn’t be writing this. I would be attacking Petersen and the mayor, for cutting transit service.

      As for the 20, it is a hodge-podge of ideas that evolved as the agency dealt with the cutbacks. At first they had the all-day 61, while the peak-only 25 was supposed to take up some of the slack. The 23 was supposed to cover some of Tangletown, while the 62 was supposed to make a faster trip from Roosevelt to Wallingford. SDOT dropped the ball on the necessary street improvements, so the 62 is going to take its current (slow) route. But still, the idea was a coverage bus for that part of town ( the 23) along with the 61, 62 and express 25 replacing the 26. Then, with the cutbacks, the 25 and 61 got axed. This meant that there was no all-day service on Northgate Way from Lake City. So they essentially extended the 23 to Northgate and Lake City (via Northgate Way) instead of going to Roosevelt. They renamed it the 26, then the 20. This covered much of the old 16 and was intended to be a coverage bus (running every half hour). But then the agency in charge of spending Seattle money decided to fund extra service on that route. That is why what is fundamentally a coverage route will get a decent level of service.

      The really crazy part is that it will take longer, and provide less functionality than the original 61. That would have left Tangletown with a very minor coverage hole, but dramatically change transit in the area. Fifteen minute service on the 61 would be huge. Fifteen minute service on the new 20 really doesn’t do much. A trip from Northgate to Green Lake is a little bit better, but guess what, Link will replace many of those trips, and that is tiny compared to the functionality added with a bus from Northgate to Crown Hill. If you are trying to get to northwest Green Lake from Link, you will get off the train at Roosevelt, not Northgate. You will take the more frequent 45. You might assume that you at least have the combined frequency of the two buses, but you don’t. Even if you are headed to the UW, you don’t. There is no overlap at all — no consolidation to get good combined frequency on a relatively common trip (north Green Lake to Link or the UW) even though both buses go that way. North of 65th, they are always a couple blocks apart, while they serve different Link stations.

      It isn’t often that I find myself praising ST planners, and criticizing Metro planners, but Metro blew this. I don’t think they put the A-Team on this one. Compare this to previous as well as future restructures. The U-Link restructure was fine. So was the East Side restructure. The previous one improved things quite a bit, and the one with East Link will be even better. The biggest flaw with the East Link restructure seems to be a lack of money, and lack of coordination with ST (likely due to ST wanting to provide service on what will be a future rail line). But that’s it. As much as I can quibble about the choices, overall it is very good, and any significant improvement would require a lot of money. In contrast, this restructure had big flaws from the very beginning, like running buses on both 85th and 80th. The lack of consolidation is a huge issue. It means rides are infrequent, when they shouldn’t be. But the worst waste of money are the peak-only express routes, which managed to survive despite all the cutbacks. I can only assume that a few well connected people really wanted their one seat ride.

  11. Fewer CT buses in the U District will improve Metro service through less congestion, especially at stops. Same thing for DT. It makes some sense for Metro to run buses from NG to Pill Hill and S Lk Union. It relieves pressure on DT surface stops and forcing a 3+ seat ride by making commuters transfer from bus to Link back to bus would probably just make people drive. But how do they decide which bus goes to Amazon and which bus goes to Pill Hill? It’s sucky to have to get off one bus and transfer to a different bus at NG. Or will they all go to Amazon and then shuttle to Pill Hill? That shuttle could pick up a fair amount of riders but to maximize would have to go thru DT. Really sucks for Pill Hill riders.

    Of course the elephant in the room is none of the bus fares (even ST?) will transfer to Link. I suppose commuters will bite the bullet and put up with ORCA since they have no choice. But people that are just trying to make a trip to a doctor or job interview get the message, “don’t use transit, we don’t like your type.”

    1. What do you mean “the bus fares won’t transfer”?

      I thought that was one of the things ORCA was for – simplifying transfers.

    2. He’s talking about people who don’t use ORCA cards. Sound Transit and Community Transit stopped allowing non-ORCA transfers to other routes years ago.

      But this is a silly discussion because work commuters are the most likely to have ORCA cards and monthly passes. Those at large companies get it from their employers, and others get it for the lower net fare, free transfers, and not having to stuff coins into the farebox and have exact change twice a day. The ones who don’t have ORCA cards are first-time riders. They’ll be able to get it at Northgate Station their first day. And the overhead of going to a TVM and paying a $5 fee to get a card is once in 528 trips during first year, and zero times in future years. Whenever Orca-NG starts, there will probably be free replacement cards like there was when ORCA started.

    3. It makes some sense for Metro to run buses from NG to Pill Hill and S Lk Union. It relieves pressure on DT surface stops and forcing a 3+ seat ride by making commuters transfer from bus to Link back to bus would probably just make people drive.

      So it relieves pressure on downtown surface stops by having more buses go downtown? That’s a new one.

      As for three seat rides, there will be more, not less. The lack of the 61 (an east-west bus in the north end) means that trips like this will continue to be common ( Metro has only eliminated a handful of three-seat rides for a handful of riders, at the one time when even wealthy people actually take transit. Everyone hates driving downtown during rush hour, and yet Metro is freaked out about those riders transferring to a train, while ignoring the plight of the working class just trying to around without a car.

      1. We also need to stop freaking out about three-seat rides. We should try and avoid them for short trips, but they will be common for long ones. If you are going from Kenmore to say, the main VA hospital in the region (on Beacon Hill) you better get used to making transfers. But if they actually build a *network*, then it will be faster than your old two-seat ride. The same goes for lots of trips. If you are trying to get from Shoreline to Fremont, then the fastest option is to take a three-seat ride.

        But the only way to make 2-seat and 3-seat rides frequent is if we spend our money wisely, instead of blowing it on poorly performing express routes that serve a handful of people.

      2. So it relieves pressure on downtown surface stops by having more buses go downtown?
        From the article:

        Refocused commuter routes, including routes 303, 320, and 322 will provide service from north King County to Northgate Station and Downtown via Link, then these buses will get on I-5 express lanes to major employment centers in First Hill and South Lake Union, instead of their current route of driving to Downtown.

        “Instead of” == less buses DT

      3. Most of the buses are being truncated by a Link station. Praising the routes that go downtown — only during rush hour — as somehow better for traffic is silly. It is like being happy you are getting hit in the back instead of the head. They are still sending buses downtown instead of increasing frequency, and letting Link do the work.

        Likewise, saying these buses don’t go downtown is a stretch. The 303, for example, will get off at 5th and James — I would call that downtown. The only difference is that these buses go downtown, and then go to a different (also congested) part of downtown.

      4. The point is they aren’t using the stops on 3rd (or 2nd or 4th) which frees up the DT bottleneck. And most buses (all CT routes) are truncated at NG. Taking people directly to their work place also takes pressure off the stops and speeds boarding DT. Some of these buses will be returning to base which likely means a trip down I-5 anyway. The one seat ride will attract some riders that would otherwise drive. Saying they should just lump it and accept two or more additional transfers isn’t going to get anyone out of their car.

  12. The 800-series routes went into the middle of the UW campus. I wonder if most former riders will walk from either Link station to campus, or wait for a bus that gets them closer.

    1. When I went to UW only a few routes went through campus and there were no intra-campus shuttles so people walked. The past decade before covid as I rode the 75, 372, and 67 through campus I see busfuls of people taking them from Campus Parkway to the interior of campus, and the more justified trip up the steep hill from U Village. They were transfering from the 71/72/73X and 49, so they’d probably transfer from Link too.

      1. My Junior year the bus from Redmond dropped of at the HUB. Then they got kicked off campus. UW really doesn’t want vehicles on campus. When I drove field trips for BSD buses were very limited in where they could drop off and layover. It wasn’t close to the center of campus. That’s sort of the point of “a campus”. There’s no way you’re making better time anyway with a shuttle than hiking the direct route. Although there were some NW corner to Health Science building class pairs where they was no way to make it in 10 minutes. One or two professors got irate about people dribbling in 2-4 minutes late for lecture.

      2. Yes, some class-to-class walks were twenty minutes, so you couldn’t have them back to back. From the North Campus dorms to the Oceanography building was forty minutes. I never had classes in South Campus but when I occasionally went to the South Campus Center it was thirty minutes if I remember. But a lot of that is walking past interesting buildings in a pedestrian-only area with other students everywhere, so it’s a treasure you won’t find after college or anywhere else in the northwest.

      3. I had lots of class pairs that required Bagley (Chem dept) and Health Sciences. Uphill was a real grunt in 10 minutes carrying a 20# backpack of books. The real problem was the layout of the HS building which was a bunch of buildings built on the cheap over decades. None of the floors are on the same elevation and hallways don’t go through. You can spend 3-5 minutes after you’re inside just trying to get to some obscure lecture hall on the 3rd floor of somewhere.

    2. Unless someone has a disability they will walk. It’s not that far really.

      Still, for convenience sake, it sure would have been nice if they had allowed a station under the HUB too – in addition to the two stations we got. If they do Ballard-Children’s, and if the UW administration has had a change of heart, maybe they can fix that. It would be great to have a station there, and another one down the hill near U-Village.

  13. I will be curious to see how access to the new train stations will work from within those local communities. I live in Lynnwood but walking from my home to the new train station won’t really be an option. I’ve been driving to my office in SLU for many years because I never could get a spot in the Lynnwood P&Rs or the MLT P&R after 7 am, and I did not want to drop off my preschool-aged child any earlier than I had to as he already had a long day there, longer than I spent in my own office. If there are more options to move within these residential areas *TO* the train stations it will be great. (On a side note, I had even tried to find a van share and that didn’t work out either! With a free ORCA pass from my employer, it was unfortunate to not even able to access transit without even longer commute times and pretty dramatic shifting of our schedules.)

  14. Tacoma to Bellevue is a long trip.

    Shoreline to Fremont is not.

    One is okay for a three-seat ride and the other is not.

  15. Three transit seats to get from Tacoma to Bellevue assumes the rider didn’t need first/last mile access at either Tacoma or Bellevue, or it is a four seat ride. No wonder folks buy cars. These are the two biggest job and population centers after Seattle, and after $131 billion it will only take them three or four seats to get from Tacoma to Bellevue, and God knows how long. Before Link this should have been an express one seat bus ride up 405 between the two cities, no matter what the frequency is.

    This idea that riders — especially commuters — will be cool with three or four seats to get anywhere if there is “adequate” frequency is crazy. Riders hate transfers. Steve Marshall addressed this when hosting a transportation seminar for Bellevue. He noted studies show no one will take three seats to go anywhere on transit (I guess unless they have absolutely no other option, and their time is worthless), and everyone forgets the first seat begins at your doorstep, because for most there is a car in the garage. This is exactly why commuters from Issaquah will drive directly to S. Bellevue park and ride if they absolutely need to take East Link (the artificially inflated cost of parking in downtown Seattle being the prime reason).

    Look, someone who absolutely has to take three or four transit seats to go someplace, let alone between Tacoma and Bellevue, is not a customer Metro or ST have to worry about losing, so why cater to them with better frequency. They also probably have a discounted fare.

    Metro and ST are catering to the work commuter with the full fare employer Orca card because that is who Link was mainly built for and its financial assumptions based upon, but the commuter needs to be somewhere at a time certain. It is called work. That is why Link runs to the four major cities in the region (if you count Everett and Tacoma major job centers, but what else is there). Commuters do have options. They won’t take three or four seats to get to work, with their doorstep being seat one. They will find an alternative. We learned that with the 550 and 554 pre-pandemic.

    I just don’t think some understand the budget hole the loss of the full fare work commuter will have on ST and Metro. If you think frequency is bad now due to budgets imagine what frequency will be like when long term rosy farebox recovery projections get slashed due to the loss of the commuter post pandemic. Sure the express buses will be gone, but so will their revenue, for Metro and Link, and none of the operation assumptions assumed a pandemic and working from home, and everyone knows ST wildly inflated ridership projections anyway to sell levies.

    You want more off-peak frequency get more commuters riding transit, and hope they want to pass more transit levies. Never forget these are riders who don’t want to be on transit, and taking transit to work and back during packed peak times is the worst thing in their lives. Maybe if transit could make it the second worst thing in their lives rather than adding seats to their trip there would be more riders. But telling them getting to work will take three or four seats and expecting them to say ok is the height of arrogance, a very common trait in transit, which I find odd since transit is so highly subsidized and vulnerable to subsidies.

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