Central Bellevue is the closest to Link Line 2, so it’s to be expected that there would be significant bus changes. Here’s what Metro’s working on:
Untie the 245/B. These buses, among the most heavily used on the East side, would get rerouted on 148th Ave NE and 156th Ave NE. The 245 would stay on 148th and scoot through Microsoft campus, meeting Link at Overlake Park & Ride before heading down to Eastgate. The Factoria leg would be deleted.
Meanwhile RapidRide B would get a straighter shot past Crossroads and into downtown Redmond, with an extension to the future Downtown Redmond station. Given the infrastructure required to add a RapidRide line, this is a trivial investment.
New 222 connects Woodinville with Link. This hourly bus would replace the 221, 232, 931 and part of the 249. Once Downtown Redmond station opens, it’s a great Link connection.
The 249 plays clean up. It winds its way around all of Central Bellevue making stops within the walkshed of just about every Link station. It’s almost as if an inebriated planner drew a local underlay for East Link. With hourly service it won’t be a huge ride generator, but the span of service nearly matches Link’s, so riders won’t get stranded at the station.
A leaner, faster 270 replaces the venerable 271. Connecting UW Station and Bellevue Transit Center, this very frequent route would go down the much busier Bellevue Way instead of 84th Ave in Medina. (With dedicated transit lanes being added at 520 & Montlake very soon, this has me dreaming of bringing back the 48+271 through route idea Bruce had about a decade ago.)
Route 202 covers the rest of the deleted 271 into Issaquah (and actually a bit further into the Highlands. This is one the benefits of a transfer-based system: new one-seat rides that didn’t previously exist. (The 202 is also, if you squint, s a preview of Link Line 4, 20 years early. Metro thinks hourly service will do for now.)
Peak express 268 from Redmond to Seattle gets axed. Hard to justify with Link providing the same trip pair but better.
The 226 gets a new routing deeper into Lake Hills.
Sound Transit’s 54x restructure comes into play. Most of what we wrote in 2019 is still applicable here, but in conjunction with the rest of Metro’s changes, routes like the 544 now work as a connector to SLU for riders who are losing a 1-seat ride from the East side to downtown Seattle.
What else did you notice? Sound off in the comments!
94 Replies to “East link restructure: Bellevue & Redmond”
That 270 is going to be a mess for a few blocks near Bellevue Square. The mall causes huge traffic jams. I wonder if Bellevue would consider adding bus-only lanes.
One way around that would be for the 270 to go north on 108th and switch to Bellevue Way at NE 10th or 12th. That would be unpopular though because a number of riders use the Bellevue Square stop, either going to UW or using it as a BellevueTC-BellevueSquare shuttle.
I would actually swap it around entirely — have it go from SR520 down 112th. This allows it to use the HOV exit instead of trying to cross all of the traffic in order to make it to the Yarrow Point station. It would then go *through* BTC and terminate somewhere around Bellevue Square (e.g. like where the 535 currently does). This means that the least reliable section is at the end of the route and the fastest section would be between BTC and UW.
My thought is purpose of the route isn’t to connect UW with Bellevue TC (Link does that just fine) but to connect the western ~1/3 of Bellevue’s downtown with UW/Seattle, as that is the part of Bellevue downtown least accessible from Link. 112th is with the Wilburton station walkshed.
Similarly it seems odd to point to Bellevue Mall as something to avoid, as that is a biggest regional destination in downtown Bellevue not within easy walkshed of Link. Whether a rider is coming from UW or Bellevue TC, there will be more riders keen to access the mall than riders inconvenienced by the delay.
There’s a ton of residential growth occurring in the box roughly bounded by 110/108th Ave and 12/8th St, which 270 will serve well.
My thought is purpose of the route isn’t to connect UW with Bellevue TC
It’s both. The new routing is faster *most* of the time. This makes it significantly faster than Link (about ten minutes, give or take). But Bellevue Way also needs coverage.
I would actually swap it around entirely — have it go from SR520 down 112th. This allows it to use the HOV exit
That’s a good point. I could see the bus going on 112th, but then you need service on Bellevue Way. I could see moving the 250 over there, but then you leave Northrup Way and 116th without service, which would be a huge hole. The 249 could fill it, but isn’t frequent enough.
Another option would be to jog over, at 24th. That covers most of the apartments on Bellevue Way. But it means that the bus is slower most of the time, even if it is faster during rush hour.
I think they have the best routing. If traffic is horrendous, then the bus driver will just loop around, and get on the HOV lanes at 112th (https://goo.gl/maps/JSEt4XmgCorQLN7Q9). That sort of thing is common for the 41. Normally it gets onto the express lanes. But when they reverse, it can take any number of routes to downtown.
If the bus is full (or close to it) during rush-hour, I could see a peak express added that just goes via 112th. You would pick up a few riders along that route (peak-only). I have a feeling this isn’t that type of bus. Ridership is far more spread-out.
Similarly it seems odd to point to Bellevue Mall as something to avoid, as that is a biggest regional destination in downtown Bellevue not within easy walkshed of Link.
If it was just the mall, I wouldn’t worry about it. Most shoppers will drive (that is why they are going to a mall). There is employment, but not high density employment. Besides, the 554 will connect to the mall.
No, the issue are the skyscrapers on Bellevue Way, close to 8th (https://goo.gl/maps/5C24YbTgWwNDVHED9). Without a bus stop there, people working in those buildings would have to walk to a bus stop on 4th or 108th (in both cases, a bit over 5 minutes) and then take a bus to Link. Or they walk to Link, which will take well over 10 minutes. There are just too many people in those big buildings to do that.
I’m normally in favor of a route getting as close to a major destination as possible (Bellevue Square in this case), but having the route 270 turn at Bellevue Way and 8th is an awful idea. NE 10th makes more sense.
The 270 is a huge improvement. It does three things:
1) Faster, especially off-peak (when most riders use it).
2) Connects to freeway stations. This enables same direction transfers (to downtown or South Lake Union) as well as reverse direction transfers (e. g. Bellevue to Kirkland via the 255).
3) Serves a higher density corridor.
The only drawback is the frequency looks worse during rush-hour, and the same the rest of the day. Given the increase in speed and efficiency (passing by way more people per hour) the route should have a bump in frequency. Fifteen minute frequency in the middle of the day is barely adequate, not “very frequent”.
I agree, the new route is better. However, reading the fine print, the new 270 is frequent only on weekdays. The weekend frequency is listed as 30-60 minutes daytime (5 AM-7PM) and 60 minutes night (7 PM-10PM). After 10 PM, 7 days/week, service stops. Even the weekday daytime frequency is only every 15 minutes, which is, quite frankly, not great.
For a route connecting two major urban centers (downtown Bellevue->UW), this level of frequency is simply pathetic. The whole point of splitting the 271 is to allow the higher ridership section to have a bus that comes more often, for more hours of the day. A UW student going to dinner or a movie at Lincoln Square at 7 PM on a Saturday night should not be treated as the kind of edge-case trip that deserved only hourly service on the way back.
The route may be great on the map, but at such awful frequencies, people will not ride it; they will either spend an extra 20+ minutes riding Link all the way around, or order an Uber.
In the meantime, the money that could and show go to making the 270 run more often is going to loopy coverage routes that almost nobody will ever ride. At 7 PM on a Saturday night for example, Metro’s frequency chart shows the 249 operating at the same hourly frequency level as the 270. That’s crap. A half-hourly 270 and no 249 is much better for ridership than an hourly 270 and an hourly 249.
I agree. My original assessment is too weak. Overall, frequency is just not that good, at any time. The fact that it is worse during rush-hour is not the biggest issue.
Perhaps staff think that at peak, when 270 will have maximum delays (particularly on local streets), Link will have a larger share of ridership on UW-Bellevue trip pairs? Right now the 271 is consistently faster than taking the 550+Link, but after East Link riders might be much more willing to travel “around the horn.” Even if the 270 is slightly faster, Link might be preferred due to real or perceived quality (better reliability, preference for rail, etc.).
270 isn’t about providing high frequency connection between UW and Bellevue TC. Link does that already. 270 is about serving all the trips that are between UW and Bellevue.
Like most routes, don’t focus on riders that will ride the route endpoint to endpoint.
(meant to reply directly to asdf2)
Metro may envision the 270 being mostly about coverage along Bellevue Way, but real ridership potential doesn’t come from single-family homes. It comes from people traveling between urban centers (e.g. UW students who live in campus going to Bellevue Square or Lincoln Square to shop or watch movie; or, people who live in downtown Bellevue going to class at the UW).
Link exists as an alternative, but it’s a slow alternative. Project travel time is 24 minutes to Westlake Station, which means 32 minutes to U-district station. Include walk time from Lincoln Square to downtown Bellevue Station, plus time on escalators, you’re looking at 45 minutes total, plus wait time. Without traffic, the 270 will take about 20 minutes, plus wait time. It’s a huge difference, which provides plenty of reason for people to ride the bus, but only if the bus runs frequently. If the bus is running half-hourly, waiting for it vs. ridding Link all the way around now becomes mostly a wash. A bus that runs only hourly is clearly inferior, and will result in anybody not willing to spend 90 minutes round trip driving. It could lead to a death spiral where weekend service on the 270 simply dies because not enough people are riding it because it service is too infrequent to be useful.
It would be one thing if Metro simply did not have the money to run the bus more often than they are proposing. But, it’s clear that they do; they are just choosing to spend the money on infrequent coverage routes to expensive single-family homes. You don’t grow transit ridership by running hourly coverage routes to Yarrow Point, Beaux Arts, and Woodridge. You grow it by running buses in a straight line, all day, 7 days/week, at high frequency between the urban centers. This means putting more service hours into routes, such as the 250, 270, B-line, and to a lesser extent the 245, not routes like the 202, 203, 222, 223, and 249.
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any resources devoted to coverage. But, we should aim for something resembling the 85% ridership/15% coverage split that Jarett Walker recommends. When the evening/weekend schedule shows routes in the “ridership” category running at the same crappy frequency as routes in the “coverage” category, that means at least 50% of the evening/weekend resources are being spent on coverage, and that’s way too much.
“Metro may envision the 270 being mostly about coverage along Bellevue Way, but real ridership potential doesn’t come from single-family homes.”
North Bellevue Way is all apartments. I lived in two of them at NE 17th and NE 29th. I’d thought of the 270 as mostly to make the 271 faster, but there’s certainly an opportunity to increase ridership in a multifamily corridor that doesn’t have access to UW now. And it answers the issue of the current 249 not giving north Bellevue Way enough coverage. (Although I would like a route that continued north to Kirkland like the 235 and later 230 did.)
“The 270 is a huge improvement. It does three things: 1) Faster, especially off-peak (when most riders use it).”
+1. Universities aren’t 9-5 offices. For the office staff they are, but those are only 1/5 of the people.
“Project travel time is 24 minutes to Westlake Station, which means 32 minutes to U-district station.”
That’s not a bad travel time though. Most commutes are around 25 minutes and that’s the sweet spot where people say it’s “not too long”. It’s also twelve miles across a lake, so people shouldn’t expect it to take five minutes. If people have a choice between Link and the 270 daytime and are effectively forced to take Link evenings and weekends, that’s still not bad. Since we’re not Seattle Subway Utopia we can only support one Link corridor between Seattle and the Eastside so it has to hit all the largest population centers. UW-Bellevue Link may be less than ideal but it’s better than the current situation, and the same Link line supports Capitol Hill-Bellevue and Capitol Hill-UW trips.
It’s not 12 miles across the lake. The entire route 270 is only 8 miles (https://goo.gl/maps/Z6oCDYbsAti6fQzr8). There’s a freeway in between and not much in the way of activity centers in between, so it should be fast. Google estimates 17 minutes by car. Throw in 3 minutes for passenger loading at bus stops along Bellevue Way, you’re looking at about 20 minutes by bus. This is extremely competitive with driving, perhaps even faster than driving after accounting for the time it takes to drive through the Bellevue Square parking garage, looking for an open space.
Unfortunately, East Link is too roundabout to be able to seriously compete with driving in this way, at least north of downtown/Capitol Hill. The 270 is a great opportunity to grow the transit modeshare to downtown Bellevue, and Metro is squandering it for the sake of loopy coverage routes. At the very least, Bellevue->U-district certainly has much better ridership potential than stuff like the 222 and 249.
I wouldn’t call Link slow. It is longer, but it’s still reliable and high capacity. I would keep the 270 at 15 minutes and if the bus gets full then KCM can considering improving service in the future. I would like to see better evening/weekend frequency.
I look at this through the same framework as forced transfers & route truncations. If Link provides “good enough” service for a trip pair, KCM shouldn’t be running buses that outcompete Link. 270 is great for people who start/finish along Bellevue Way or western edge of downtown Bellevue, but for the rest of Bellevue’s urban core, Link is sufficient and Metro planners should not worry about shaving a few minutes off of a Bellevue to UW trip.
I’m reminded of a similar issue between AC Transit Transbay service and BART. The AC bus is faster from 20th and Broadway in Oakland to Downtown San Francisco than BART is. However, almost all transit riders boarding at that Oakland spot use BART to get to San Francisco.
Why is that? Here are some answers:
1. Travel time reliability. Riders know BART is extremely reliable almost down to the exact minute. The Bay bridge is unpredictable to that level of accuracy. I would guess that this is an advantage worth about 3-9 minutes of longer travel time depending on the person.
2. Security and environment. With fare gates and clean stations and manned station agents, BART is just a more pleasant experience. Waiting seems to take less time.
3. Destinations. Riders are usually going to a location, not just a transit stop. I don’t see riders using Route 270 unless at least one of their trip ends is within short walking distance. I think Link riders will be less condemning of double transfers.
4. Vehicle comfort . Although much has been written about BART’s wider gauge, having wider seats and seemingly extra space to drop a bag is very attractive. That’s especially true if the ride is over 20 or 30 minutes. Riders don’t usually consider vehicle comfort much for a 5 or 10 minute ride.
5. Station circulation. This is where ST can really blow it. Insufficient or out-of-service escalators can single-handedly push riders to Metro for trips like this. Because BART uses a third rail for power, the tubes are smaller and the steps are fewer than with light rail. In particular, the UW stations are both relatively deep — so this could easily be a big negative for Link.
It’s easy to get drawn into the minutiae of comparing travel times. However, I think that falls away for most riders as these other things get taken into account.
3) is why you have the route stop next to Bellevue Square and thru-route it with something in Seattle.
Frequency-wise, I think 15 minutes is something we can live with, unless capacity needs dictate more. It’s the 30-60 minute evening/weekend frequency that I’m really complaining about. What good is offering frequent service if you are required to take a day off work in order to use it? Bellevue square is not a dead zone outside of 9-5, M-F. Going to Lincoln Square to watch a movie that starts at 7 PM on a Saturday night is not an edge case.
That said, I do think it is perfectly fair to the debate the tradeoffs of running the 270 more often vs. running something like the B or 250 more often. But, that is not what Metro is doing. Instead, Metro is systematically choosing big sacrifices to the frequency of core Eastside routes to provide more coverage to residential Cul de sacs. One can at least make a plausible argument that 15 minute Saturday service on the 250 offers more ridership potential than on the 270. One cannot possibly argue with a straight face that running an hourly 249 offers a better return on weekend investment than bumping frequency from 30 minutes to 15 minutes on either the 250 or the 270.
It is the route 249 trips that are the edge cases. The eastern half provides no real coverage beyond what you can get by riding Link and walking a few blocks. The Eastside subarea does not have the budget to run special routes for those tiny number of people willing to wait 40 minutes to avoid walking a few blocks. The western half of the 249 is closer to real coverage, but is just expensive single family houses. At best, maybe that section can get a peak only shuttle route, but certainly not an all day bus when other routes with much better ridership potential are so lacking in frequency.
“Project travel time is 24 minutes to Westlake Station, which means 32 minutes to U-district station.”
That’s not a bad travel time though.
Wait, what??? We are spending billions so that suburban riders avoid five minute traffic delays on their way downtown, but we can’t run buses frequently from the second and third biggest destination in the state because travel time on the alternative is “good enough”. Come on, man.
The bus from downtown Bellevue to the UW saves a huge amount of time over taking Link. The fact that some of the trips on Link are under an arbitrary threshold is meaningless. Despite having the best transit system in the United States (if not North America) millions of people take cabs in New York City because the subway is too indirect, or too slow. This is a city with horrendous all-day traffic problems (unlike Seattle). Yes, they could get to their destination in a half hour, but they want to get there in twenty minutes.
You are also ignoring the fact that downtown Bellevue is a transit center. That means that lots of people took a different bus to get there. Or they walked. Or they are walking when they get to the UW. Given the huge stop spacing in both Bellevue and the UW, very few would actually be able to actually make it to their destination within the magical half-hour.
asdf2 is right. This bus should have better frequency.
3. Destinations. Riders are usually going to a location, not just a transit stop.
Right. And within both downtown Bellevue and the greater U-District, the 270 has better access to the destinations. We aren’t talking about an express, that only runs between the transit centers. This serves large apartments and giant skyscrapers in downtown Bellevue, and skirts the entire campus and population centers in the UW. Does Link do that? No.
The AC bus is faster from 20th and Broadway in Oakland to Downtown San Francisco than BART is
Is it though? I’m looking at the Google Maps, and I just don’t see it. I mean I literally don’t see taking the bus as an option — it keeps telling me to take BART. Even at 3:00 AM, BART is faster than driving. It makes sense that BART is fast. There are only a couple stops between those two destinations. The route is very direct, and the train actually goes faster than cars. Are you sure you have your destinations right?
It is really nothing like the trip from the UW to downtown Bellevue. If there was a train over 520, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation, and both asdf2 and I would be arguing that it is stupid to run buses over 520, just so it can skip a few stops. Your analogy would be like arguing for an express bus from downtown Bellevue to downtown Seattle.
But the train trip both has a lot more stops, AND it is the slow way. It literally doubles the distance. This is not a coverage route, but a fast connection between the second and third biggest destinations in the state. It should have better frequency.
Ross, it’s called AC Route NL:
The schedules say that it’s 16 minutes between 19th St and Montgomery on BART, and 18 minutes (sometimes a little more) on AC Transit Route NL.
Admittedly while it may not be clearly shorter, it’s pretty dang close.
The fact that you can’t find it speaks for itself.
@Al — But the point is, the bus is not faster. That’s why Google Maps never shows it as an option. Your entire example is meaningless. You can come up with all sorts of reasons why people take the train, but the main one is that people want the quicker trip, which is available on the train.
But that isn’t true in this case. The bus to the U-District is roughly ten minutes faster, not the other way around.
Dare I mention that the Sales Force Tower is 1,000 feet tall, and that there are many new tall buildings around it, and that it takes more time to climb out of a BART station and walk to it and nearby buildings than it does to take an AC Transit bus? BART is slower for many SF destinations from 20th and Broadway in Oakland than Route NL is. Route NL also gives riders the bonus of a scenic ride across a beautiful Bay bridge on a bus with giant windows!
I’m not saying that the choice is black and white. I’m simply saying that riders have lots of different reasons fir choosing transit paths, and that there are other factors besides in-vehicle travel time. While my example may differ a bit from Link vs 270, the principle is there.
It’s rather pointless to debate this 520 bridge outcome because it is speculative. So we can both get out the popcorn and see what happens in 2023. I predict a proportion of the Downtown Bellevue to UW and U-Dustrict riders will move to Link and some will stay on a Metro bus.
Those of us in Seattle benefit from increased frequencies because we agreed to add a tax for supplemental service. When we look outside of Seattle, we forget that the rest of the county doesn’t have this funding.
It is obvious that the East Side is underfunded. But it is also clear that ST and Metro did not cooperate well, and that is where the major inefficiencies exist with this proposal. As asfd2 points out, it should also be obvious that much of the funding (on both sides of the lake) go into poorly performing coverage routes, instead of routes that will get more people out of their car.
I guess my point is, I didn’t forget.
Continuing along the theme of my prior comment, I can’t help but feel that Metro is spending too much money on coverage routes and not enough on building an all-day frequent network between major population centers, virtually across the board in this restructure.
The 249, I almost feel shouldn’t exist at all. The eastern half doesn’t take you anywhere you can’t get to on other routes (e.g. 245, 250, Link), plus a half-mile of walking. The western part at least provides something resembling real coverage, but only to expensive single family homes with very low ridership potential.
The 223 takes a loopy coverage detour to West Lake Sammamish that has next to zero ridership potential and prevents the route from being a useful connection between Overlake and Eastgate.
The 202 is entirely coverage to areas with very low ridership potential; at 30 minutes peak, 60 minutes weekday midday (no service weekends), nobody is going to ride it. Like the 249, this is another route I think should be killed to allow other routes to run more frequently.
Essentially Metro’s eastside service is being spread way too thin, really all day, but especially on weekends, doubly so on weekend evenings. It is better to run fewer routes with 15-30 minute service than to run more routes at 60-minute service.
Ah! I agree with your point about route 223. Admittedly, it has been a while since I’ve bussed on the Eastside. But I know from my own personal experience that areas closer to Lake Sammamish don’t need transit as much as other areas. So I think Metro should maintain the route along 164th Ave versus forcing riders to meander through a neighborhood that may have next-to-nothing ridership.
There’s “coverage routes” and then there’s what can maybe be termed “appeasement routes” or similar.
Example from Portland:
Route 19 takes a wacko deviation through one of southeast Portlald’s wealthier neighborhoods. Virtually nobody rides it, it adds a bunch of time, and the streets are really too narrow for it to turn easily.
But, there are several wealthy loudmouths that, though they have never actually taken the bus themselves, have readily available reasons why the service is vitally important for them to have.
So, in order to appease said wealthy loudmouths, for decades the 19 had the Rex Street Variant. This year, they were finally able to get this cut back to 4 appeasement trips per day.
I can’t help but wonder how much of this is similar appeasement of loud people that really have no interest in transit but want the option available just in case.
202 is the only route that serves Lake Sammamish State park? That may be ‘coverage’ but still merits all day service?
I think the 202 is weekday only. People with jobs go to the park on weekends. A park whose only bus runs only on weekdays, for all intents and purposes, has no bus service at all.
This is not an argument for running the 202 on weekends – the ridership isn’t there, and weekend frequency on other, more productive routes is sorely lacking. Even on weekdays, I’m not really sure that the 202 should exist. It’s simply a statement that we can’t serve everywhere. The good news is that, at least, people without cars can get to Lake Sammamish state park easily enough on a bike. There’s a flat trail straight there from SE Redmond station, and biking the trail would probably be faster than waiting for the 202, even when it does run.
The so-called 48+271 through-route would best be referred to today as a hypothetical 45+271 combo. (Jesus, it’s been like what? 5 years now?)
The interesting part would be figuring out how to execute a good through-route. Currently, the 45 is through-routed with the 75 and serves the UW campus. Pairing the 45 with the 270 will almost certainly bring the 45 back to the Montlake Triangle–something I know Children’s Hospital had suggested in its letter of support for the October 2021 service change ordinance. What will happen to the 75 if the 45/270 goes ahead? Do we just terminate these buses at U-District Station and waste valuable layover space?
Thru routing the 270 with something in Seattle seems like a great idea to me.
Currently the 75 is thorugh-routed with the 31 and 32. The 75/45 pair starts with the service revision. Metro is bullish on it but it’s still experimental, the way the 75/31/32 pair and before that the 65/31/32 pair was. I ride the 75 and 45 and I’m not at all sure that riders from Sand Point Way want to go to Greenlake more than they want to go to N 40th Street or anywhere else in north-central Seattle. If it doesn’t go gangbusters Metro could still create a 45/271 and separate the 75. One thing Metro is counting on is that connecting Sand Point/Laurelhurst to all of University Way will be popular. It might be.
I think the most interesting through-route would actually be with the 31/32. That’s basically a due-west shot from UW, which means that transfers to north-south corridors would be the fastest. E.g. it enables fast 2-seat rides to basically everywhere west of I-5.
[Connecting the 270 with the 31/32] enables fast 2-seat rides to basically everywhere west of I-5
Theoretically yes. Realistically, no. For example, Aurora is a very awkward connection. Same with Phinney Ridge or 8th Avenue NW. Even 15th would require crossing a drawbridge three times. A lot of these (and other) trips will switch to two-seat rides involving Link. Go downtown via East Link, then take the bus on the fast street (Aurora/15th) back up north. The closer you get to downtown, the more it makes sense to use Link. Yes, you could take a bus from Nickerson to upper Queen Anne, but you might as well take the bus from downtown. I’m not saying that route doesn’t have value, but it is mostly one-seat rides (e. g. Fremont, SPU).
On the other hand, I could see the 44 being paired with the 270. This favors every major north-south route north of the canal. It also connects to the major destinations in the area, including those in the U-District. The doesn’t cross any other bridge, either.
What it needs, more than anything, is more right-of-way for the 44. This is valuable in its own right, obviously. But if that bus could avoid all major delays, then pairing it — or perhaps of a few of its trips — with the 270 would connect the north part of Seattle with Bellevue quite nicely.
What about maybe making the 270 a limited stop overlay for the 44? Limit it to maybe 7 or so of the busiest 44 stops / transfer points. I think that could be really popular over longer distances as well as just along the existing 44.
@Glenn — The 44 should have better frequency, not an overlay. We don’t have the money for both. As of right now, it has headways of only 12 minutes, when it should probably be double that. Once the bus is running every 6 minutes, we can talk about overlays.
Of course bus bunching could be an issue, but that is where the bus lanes (and other improvements, like off board payment and signal priority) come in. Make the buses faster, and bus bunching is reduced.
Stephen: Yes! But make sure its the correct half of routes 31 and 32. The west segments could end at the Pacific Triangle and the UWMC; the downtown Seattle service is via UW Link station. The east segments could be hooked to Route 270 via 15th Avenue NE. The west segments cross the Fremont Bridge and have poor reliability though about one-half the year due to openings. The pairings of routes 45-75 and 65-67 are pretty good, though the Roosevelt couplet is going to be slow and unreliable.
The current routing of the 270 is slightly problematic, in that it would have to cross three lanes of SR-520 in the quarter-mile between Yarrow Point and Bellevue Way. If Yarrow Point should be served, it’s better for this route to use the carpool ramps at 108th, using Northup and/or 24th to connect with Bellevue. Alternatively, Yarrow Point can be skipped, which would still be an improvement over the status quo of neither freeway station being served by the 271.
They should also consider having the 256/311 stop at South Kirkland P&R. This area has been growing with businesses and would allow people going there from Woodinville and Kirkland to ride there without having to ride through the sidestreets or backtrack and transfer at Yarrow Point Station.
I disagree. It would just slow things down and enable virtually no new trips. South Kirkland park and ride just doesn’t have enough there.
Worse, the park and ride itself has tight quarters, so each bus that goes through there slows down other buses. A 256 and 311 serving the stop would also make for a slower 255 and 250.
I think the 556 served both Yarrow Point and Bellevue Way. The route looks more or less identical.
I agree that it could easily skip Yarrow Point, and just serve Evergreen Point. It would be a tiny bit more backtracking for people heading to Kirkland on the 255, but not much.
It is worth pointing out that Bellevue Square is not just “people going shopping at the mall,” even if that’s the only reason *you* might imagine going there. Between the retail, multiple large hotels, eateries, and even offices, it is a major employment center which is not quite being directly served by the Link station. Many of these jobs are lower paying (i.e. we shouldn’t make people feel they should own and maintain a vehicle to work there) and not on 9-5 schedules–or even on any fixed daily schedule. People also live in the area. This is an area that should have an all day+weekend and evening frequent bus option like the 270.
Agreed. If anything, the mall itself is one of the weaker arguments for serving the area. There are very large buildings, with offices, apartments, and a ton of retail, of all sorts. A lot of these places are a very long walk from the nearest Link station.
Last time *I* was in that neck of the woods was to see Craig Robinson at the Parlor Live Comedy Club (he was hilarious, and he has quite the voice, too). Unfortunately, that place was one of the many Covid victims.
I signed up for the virtual open house tomorrow, to ensure that there will at least be one person there arguing for better frequency on core routes.
I suspect a lot of the participants will have just looked at the lines on the map, and not bothered to check how often each route is actually running – a perspective that typically favors coverage (which they can quickly see) over span and frequency (which they cannot).
Disclaimer (it has been a while since I’ve lived and bussed on the Eastside)
Route 270: when I took the current 271 a few times, I recall the majority of the ridership was getting on/off at UW, BTC and Bellevue College. Is this still true today? I saw a noticeable number of students staying on between UW and BC. (Just like I see the same for those who travel between EdCC and UW today) If this is true, then Metro should keep a one-seat ride at least to Bellevue college.
Route 223: does anyone know about the ridership in the far eastern portion of Northup Way?? It has been my experience that the closer you get to the lake, the higher the income of that area and thus less of a need for transit. If this is the case along Northup, then the 223 should not have to Make such a massive deviation and stay straight along 164th Ave.
Route 226: it doesn’t make sense for the bus to come so close to Overlake yet not serve it.
Metro should keep a one-seat ride at least to Bellevue college.
I could easily see Metro/ST taking over the 554, from Bellevue Way to Eastgate, and then ending it Bellevue College. That would dramatically speed up the time between the two campuses most of the day. Bellevue Way gets a bigger one-seat destination (UW instead of Issaquah) while still retaining the fast service to downtown Bellevue, Link, Eastgate (and an even better connection to Bellevue College).
Of course Link will dramatically improve the travel time between the two colleges as well. Take the train to Mercer Island (20 minutes) then a bus to Eastgate (5 minutes). It is just the extra walking and waiting that would make the one seat ride faster. Overall though, I think that would be one of the better combinations.
I don’t think there’s much point in a one-seat ride from the U-district to Bellevue College – it would be no faster than the two-seat combination of Link to South Bellevue, followed by the 554. The 271 is slow in downtown Bellevue, and the schedule has a lot of padding at Bellevue Transit Center, which makes it even slower.
The direct ride from Bellevue Transit Center to Bellevue College is important and is kept. The proposal moves that over to the 240, but I don’t like that because it makes Newcastle very painful to reach from the regional transit system. Maybe downtown Bellevue->Eastgate could be implemented as an extension of the 250 instead.
Terminating the 554 at BC would effectively be the 212, which is a peak-only route. Given the 212 is proposed to be deleted, I don’t think KCM would be keen on reincarnating it.
@asdf2 — Yeah, a UW to Eastgate/Bellevue College bus would have a fast alternative. The fastest combination would be Link to Mercer Island, then Eastgate. The advantage is that a bus like I’m talking about would have less walking, and no transfer. My guess is the bus would be faster (end to end) just not a lot faster.
It is basically a way to shine up the pig that is the 554*. It retains the only valuable section (Bellevue Way to Eastgate) and tacks it onto something (the 270). You might get some people who prefer the one-seat ride, along with some other connections (south Bellevue Way to north Bellevue Way, north Bellevue Way to Eastgate/Bellevue College, south Bellevue Way to the UW).
I’ll admit it isn’t great though. Extending something like the 250 south probably makes more sense. Or just scrap it altogether and send those buses towards Factoria (where they would split).
* OK, that’s not fair — the 554 is not a terrible route, it just doesn’t mesh well with the other routes. There is no way to make good, complementary bus routes East of Eastgate, so they ended up with too many service hours over there, and buses that don’t work well with each other. The only reasonable section is Eastgate to downtown Bellevue.
My understanding of ridership for both the 271 and the Issaquah to Northgate route (556?) is that ridership dropped off precipitously east Bellevue, which is why the 270 is proposed to go no further.
Besides coverage, I’m also going to point out another place where the hours needed to make the 270 frequent are going. Under the restructure, Issaquah is over served. The truncated 554 runs all day every 15 minutes. No quibble with that, a bus every 15 minutes from South Bellevue to Issaquah seems just about right. But, Metro then takes that service and supplements it with two express routes to Issaquah Highlands, but which gets terrible off peak ridership today.
Sammamish does need a bus, but it should come in the form of an extension of the 554, not a whole separate route. To be clear, I think the express is fine peak hours, but is overkill alongside a 15-minute 554 to run all day. Snoqualmie/North Bend, hourly service feels right, but I don’t think they have enough ridership to warrant a bus all the way to Mercer Island. I’d probably say, just keep the existing route 208 and upgrade it to hourly. During peak hours, this can be supplemented by vanpools. A long, niche trip like Snoqualmie Ridge to Mercer Island seems like the perfect candidate for a vanpool. The van can even be given a reserved parking spot at the park and ride once it gets there.
Are those Issaquah express routes expected to run all day? I assumed they would mirror the current 21X and run only at peak. I wouldn’t consider Issaquah “overserved” but rather a classic trunk and branch system, with Metro is trying to serve the I90 corridor with multiple tails during peak. During peak hours, the 554 and 51X were crush loaded between BC and Seattle pre-COVID, so high frequency is merited. But rather than just boosting the 554 to 5 minute frequency (like the 550), Metro ran a clutch of 21X routes to provided the needed frequency in the trunk but add more tails.
“A long, niche trip like Snoqualmie Ridge to Mercer Island seems like the perfect candidate for a vanpool.” If a route like that is running half-hourly or less during peak hours, then it’s intended to serve those who don’t have access to a car and therefore a vanpool isn’t an option. Carpools will likely get preferential access to the S Bellevue garage, like all other ST2 garages.
It would perhaps be more navigable if the 21X routes where labeled like 554-Highlands Express or 554-Costco HQ express, but that’s not the nomenclature we have (plus it looks like the 21Xs will go to MI and the 554 will go to S Bellevue)
Are those Issaquah express routes expected to run all day?
Dude, read the docs. We’ve been talking about it for a while (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2021/09/17/east-link-connections-bus-changes-in-the-south-subarea/#comment-880287). It has been an issue pretty much since this came out. Just to repeat here:
1) Metro is sending four buses an hour (all-day) to Issaquah (the 215 and 269).
2) Sound Transit is sending four buses an hour (all-day) to Issaquah (the 554).
Excessive? Yes. Complementary? No. Is there an easy fix? No.
A big part of the problem is that these are two different agencies. Even if you ignore that issue (the elephant in the room) things get complicated. I would start by sending all Issaquah buses to Mercer Island. Then eliminate the overlap in Sammamish. How all that could work is a judgment call, but it is obvious that there is too much money spent east of Eastgate, and the irony is, they aren’t getting that much out of it. For example, if you want to get from Seattle to Issaquah in the middle of the day, you have four buses (Yay!) but they are evenly split between two Link Stations (Boo!).
The 554, 269, and 554 are certainly complementary – the overlap to serve the Bellevue College trunk. This is exactly how one would design a trunk and branch system on the I90 corridor. Overlay everything through Eastgate freeway station and have branches on both end, with the Highlands TC as an additional transfer node for the ‘far east side’ for travel within/between Issaquah, Sammamish, and Snoqualmie. I would support sending the 554 to MI and handing the S Bellevue Way segment another route, but I do think there is value is branching on both ends of the trunk.
Service on the trunk is not excessive. Pre-COVID, buses left Eastgate freeway station basically every 3 minutes to meet demand at peak; that demand will return. Off peak, Eastgate gets 7.5 minute frequency; you have been apoplectic that Link doesn’t run sub-10 minutes all day through the Rainier Valley, but when Eastgate gets overlaid frequency of 7.5 minutes you object?
Now for the 3 branches:
554 serves Central Issaquah and Olde Town. This has the most density so merits 15 minutes all day.
269 serves North Issaquah and Sammamish
215 serves Highlands and Snoqualmie, with Snoqualmie getting only hourly service off peak.
These serve entirely different cities. So no, if I want to get from Seattle to “Issaquah” in the middle of the day, I don’t have four buses. I have 1 route that actually gets me to my destination and several other routes travel through the same city several miles miles away from where I want to actually go. I only have 4 routes to choose from if I’m going to Eastgate.
North Issaquah, Sammamish, the Highlands, and Snoqualmie all get a ton out of direct connections to Link. Outside of peak, I don’t begrudge running a bus every 30 minutes to create those connections; You could insist on truncating the 269 at Eastgate or Issaquah TCs, but I thought you were all about quality all day service?
During peak, the 215 and 269 are necessary. It doesn’t make sense to transfer a SRO route into another route that will also be SRO; all three routes will need to connect directly to a Link station. Once Issaquah Link exists, then we can truncate all these route in Issaquahs (or Eastgate), but until then, these expresses will need to connect to directly to High Capacity Transit.
I think the proposal serves Issaquah and Sammamish pretty well during peak hours. I’m simply saying that a bus to Issaquah Highlands every 7-15 minutes all day is excessive, given that pretty much nobody uses it outside of rush hour today. A 15 minute 554 is fine, I just think that should be it.
There is also little reason to have separate buses going to Mercer Island and south Bellevue during off peak hours. The problems with leaving the HOV lane to exit at Bellevue Way are entirely peak.
The 554, 269, and 554 are certainly complementary – the overlap to serve the Bellevue College trunk.
I assume you mean the 215, 269 and 554. Sorry, but no. they aren’t complimentary. Consider a few trips:
1) Seattle to Eastgate. There will be 8 buses an hour from Link to Eastgate. If they were complementary, they would run every 7.5 minutes from the same station. They aren’t. At best we will have 15 minute service from one station, and 15 minute service from another. From the perspective of someone leaving the largest destination in our system, one set of buses doesn’t exist. What is true for trips from Seattle to Eastgate is true for trips from Seattle to Issaquah.
2) Eastgate to Link. This works, but only this direction.
3) Eastgate to the Highlands. This works this direction.
4) Highland to Eastgate. The buses take considerably different paths. If the buses are timed for those leaving the Highlands, they can’t be timed for Eastgate to Link (2).
Or how about Sammamish. There are six buses an hour to the park and ride, and every one will go to Eastgate and Link. You would think they would run every ten minutes, but no. You have a bus every fifteen minutes, and then another bus every half hour. They can’t compliment each other, even though they end up in essentially the same place, following the same path much of the way.
This is *not* how to design a trunk and branch system. It isn’t even have to design a complimentary weave (my term). Side note: I emailed Jarrett Walker to ask for a name for this type of route (since it isn’t quite a trunk and branch. He didn’t have a name for it even though he recognized the pattern). A good example is the 65/75 from Lake City to the UW. They should be in sync (leaving Lake City and leaving the UW) with the same bus stops. (They aren’t, but that’s a long story).
Anyway, the root of the problem is ST’s decision to send the buses from Issaquah to South Bellevue instead of Mercer Island. Run the buses to Mercer Island, extend the 554 to Redmond, and it becomes much easier for ST to run complimentary (or just less wasteful) routes. I really don’t think the Highlands needs 8 buses an hour, or Sammamish needs 6, but if you are going to do that, do it right.
There is also little reason to have separate buses going to Mercer Island and south Bellevue during off peak hours. The problems with leaving the HOV lane to exit at Bellevue Way are entirely peak.
Yes, but if you run a bus to Mercer Island in the morning, it better be there in the afternoon. That’s why it makes sense to run all the buses from Issaquah to Mercer Island during the day. Consider this scenario:
You take the 218 every morning from Issaquah Highlands to downtown Seattle. Every day you transfer at Mercer Island each way. Then one day, you have to leave early. You get off the bus and look around for your bus. It isn’t there. No problem, you look at the kiosk (or your phone) and realize you can take the 215 or 269. Oh look, it is the same bus stop. Cool.
Second scenario. Same situation, but this time, you look around for your bus and find nothing. It is like a ghost town, you can’t seem to find a bus anywhere. You pull up your phone, and check One Bus Away. No help. So then you ask Google for directions, and it tells you to get back on the train. That can’t be right, but it is. You start swearing at Metro and call a cab. Another unsatisfied customer.
Later on, when you’ve calmed down, you realize that Google was right. So now you are a little more savvy. This time, it is a late meeting. So as the train approaches Mercer Island, you begin to wonder. Is my train here? Will there be another one, or should I just wait until the other station? The last 215 of the day (an expensive express) sits empty.
This is all a variation on the “last bus” phenomenon. I can’t find the link, but Jarrett Walker wrote about it. The last bus benefits from the bus after it. In other words, imagine the last bus of the day runs at midnight. Now imagine they add another bus, at 12:10 AM. You would think that the midnight bus would actually lose riders, as some of them decide to wait for that 12:10 AM bus. But it doesn’t work that way. It actually gains riders. No one wants to take that last bus — they fear missing it. They adjust their schedule, so they can take the second to last bus.
The same is true here. You can’t force riders to make last second decisions on where to exit the train. No one wants to be stuck. All the Issaquah buses should go to Mercer Island. All of them.
That is a pretty good argument Ross for continuing one seat express buses from the park and rides around Issaquah to Seattle and back during peak hours. Pretty hard to get confused over what bus to take home if you don’t transfer.
At the same time my guess is Bellevue’s intent is all those commuters now go to Bellevue, not Seattle, so have them transfer in Bellevue if they must.
Plus that same Issaquah commuter into Seattle is going to drive directly to the S. Bellevue Park and ride to catch East Link into Seattle (or the Mercer Island park and ride) since they have to drive to a park and ride to begin their journey anyway, just like they did pre-East Link, so cut out the bus. The problem with taking any bus from Mercer Island to Issaquah is whatever bus you take has to return you to the same park and ride your car is parked in. East Link will take you back to the Mercer Island park and ride (453 stalls) or S. Bellevue (1500 stalls). No confusion there.
All these factors are factors I have raised in the past, and why I think Metro and ST are running so much of transit from the Issaquah region to Bellevue and not Mercer Island, because I don’t see commuters to Seattle voluntarily transferring on Mercer Island, certainly not to a bus that does not return them to their park and ride.
Mercer Island is nowhere. There is virtually no reason for anyone on the eastside to go to Mercer Island. Renton has more to do. Islanders even drive to Factoria or Crossroads to do stuff. The bus intercept on MI was ST trying to manufacture the ridership on East Link it inflated in ST 2 and 3. But it never made sense. Why have an intercept at a place with a small park and ride that no one on the eastside ever goes to unless they live there, or their kid has a sporting event there?
That is a pretty good argument Ross for continuing one seat express buses from the park and rides around Issaquah to Seattle and back during peak hours. Pretty hard to get confused over what bus to take home if you don’t transfer.
That wasn’t my point. Not even close.
It is quite reasonable to find out that you are too early or too late to catch your express. You catch a different bus, from that same bus stop instead. It takes longer, but it still serves the same stops. Its like the 510 and 512. Try and take the 510, but if it isn’t running, take the 512. In fact, it is such a common situation, that a lot of the time, the folks in charge don’t give the bus a different number. They call the fast one “an express”, and leave it at that.
It is quite another thing to be left in the middle of nowhere (Mercer Island) at a decent hour and have no alternative but to go back to the train station, and wait for the next train, which will take you to a different stop.
I’d shorten the 554 to end at the Highlands TC (there’s a good bus bay there for layover/recovery) and let riders transfer to the 269 to travel onwards to Sammamish, rather than extend the 554 further.
The 269 covers NW Sammamish Rd, which is an important corridor because it covers the northern half of Issaquah’s growth center, anchored by Costco’s large & expanding corporate HQ. I don’t think that road gets all day service from any other route? I suppose the 269 could truncate at the highlands, but then that would be a very short route, so I think it makes sense to let the 269 go around the horn to SE Redmond, rather than the 554. If the 269 is “too long,” truncate it as Eastgate TC (riders can have a same platform transfer on the freeway to get to East Link) … but if a bus is already at the Eastgate freeway station, serving MI is a major improvement for low cost, so I’d recommend keeping the 269 as-is.
The 269 could truncate at the Issaquah TC (like it currently does), but at peak that would overload the 554. Rather than create a peak only route for the freeway express part of the 269 (i.e. the 214), KCM is running that segment all day, which is useful because it creates an all day connection between Mercer Island and Eastgate, as the only other Eastgate-Issaquah freeway route (554) serves Bellevue.
Pre-COVID (unless it changed without my knowledge), the 200 wound through the Pickering Place complex on Lake Dr. On paper that’s the better route to serve the area because Sammamish Rd’s walkshed is cut in half by the state park (and it gets you closer to the actual Costco HQ), but Sammamish Rd is more direct and so might be the better route for the longer-distance route, and the area is pretty car-oriented and might be considered pedestrian-unfriendly. Once the area gets redeveloped and Issaquah’s proposed 12th Ave crossing of I-90 gets built, who knows, but that might coincide with Link to Issaquah shaking everything up again.
Yeah the 12th Ave crossing would be a big enough change to the local environment that I’d hope for a complete rethink of the Issaquah routes, but that far enough out I think it’s appropriately out of scope for this restructure.
I think it’s better for a route to be straight rather than ‘wiggle’ to get slightly closer to a destination. That area has big parking lots (for now) but the sidewalks & ped crossing are good quality so I think it’s reasonable to ask riders to safely walk a few blocks.
This issue has come up a lot, ever since people laid eyes on this restructure. It is one of the few places where things seem excessive. The worst part is, it doesn’t even make transit great for folks east of Eastgate, as the routes aren’t complementary.
I have some ideas, although they ignore agency boundaries. I start with a few assumptions:
1) All Issaquah buses should go to Mercer Island. During rush hour, this saves a considerable amount of time. Outside of rush hour, this simplifies travel.
2) Issaquah should not automatically have a one seat ride to downtown Bellevue. There are a lot of places that are closer that don’t.
3) I keep the western part of the 554 (between Eastgate and downtown Bellevue). There are other options, but it is simpler to assume this is covered. It is likely that it would not be a stand-alone route, but attached to something else (like the 250).
4) I keep the 218, and we may need other express buses as well, to allow “downstream” riders to get a ride. For example, I could see an express from South Sammamish to Mercer Island or just extending the 218.
With that in mind, here are a few proposals:
1) Take the 554, and run it to Mercer Island. Also extend it to Redmond.
2) Kill the 269.
3) Have the 215 go via NW Sammamish Road to Issaquah Highlands (this covers part of the 269 that is lost). It would only run when it goes to North Bend (i. e. infrequently).
This retains the frequency on every major corridor in the area. It even increases the frequency from South Sammamish Park and Ride to Redmond. Frequency would be lost at Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride, but it would still have 15 minute (midday) headways. The small section of NW Sammamish Road would see frequency drop from every half hour, to whatever North Bend gets.
Savings come from not running the 269, and not running the 215 that often. The cost is to run the section between South Sammamish P & R and Redmond twice as often. I think this saves money, but more than anything, it is more efficient. Still too much money? Then I would do this:
1) Take the 554, and run it to Mercer Island.
2) Extend the 554 to Redmond, but only half the time.
3) Kill the 269.
4) Have the 215 go via NW Sammamish Road to Issaquah Highlands (this covers part of the 269 that is lost). It would only run when it goes to North Bend (i. e. infrequently).
This is very similar, you just lose frequency between the Highlands and Redmond. Another way to save money would be to do this:
1) Take the 269, but run it on the proposed 554 pathway in Issaquah (running every half hour).
2) Kill the 554.
3) Have the 215 go via NW Sammamish Road to Issaquah Highlands (this covers part of the 269 that is lost). Run it every half hour (as proposed).
Riders go from 15 minute to half-hour service in central Issaquah. The Highlands P & R is still gets four buses an hour. The Issaquah TC could get the same with a slight variation — have the 215 swing by the center before heading north. Outbound, the two buses would be in sync (leaving Mercer Island and Eastgate 15 minutes between each other). They would reach Issaquah Highlands at different times. Inbound, Metro would choose which stop to favor (Highlands, Issaquah TC, or Eastgate). It would be impossible to time all three, although they wouldn’t be that far off (by my reckoning).
This would save a significant of service. From the Highlands to South Sammamish P & R there would be four fewer buses an hour. Central Issaquah gets half hour service instead of 15. Everything else would be roughly the same.
A lot depends on how much you want to save. No matter what though, I think any of these proposals would be more efficient.
ST and Metro did not restructure bus service for all of East King Co. without coordinating with the major cities, including Bellevue, Issaquah and Redmond. Although Issaquah is only around 35,000 residents, it in many ways speaks for Sammamish which has 70,000 residents, and areas east.
Of course the restructure is political. Same reason few can understand how Issaquah got a $4.5 billion light rail line to S. Kirkland (which is still less than half the cost of WSBLE). Mainly because the subarea has the money.
Begin with the fact this “restructure” is occurring 18 months into a pandemic, and East Link doesn’t open until July 2023. Who knows what ridership on East Link will be, or across the lake, or on feeder buses. How do you restructure transit in East King Co. when right now no one is riding transit in East King Co.? Based on the arbitrary route of East Link?
I think the restructure many on this blog don’t think makes sense is Metro and the eastside cities predicting the future, or hoping how the future turns out. Some on this blog want to restructure 2023 bus service in East King Co. as though it is 2017, but 2023 will likely be much different when it comes to transit on the eastside in 2023, and ridership directly impacts revenue. I think the dramatic loss of ridership on the 550 and 554 pre-pandemic influenced this restructure.
If there is one thing this restructure says to me it is Metro (and probably ST) see much less commuter ridership from the eastside to Seattle in 2023. The heart of the eastside is moving to the S. Bellevue station and the main station. There may be more riders from Seattle going east, but they are going to Bellevue and won’t need a transfer on Mercer Island. My guess is Bellevue wants as much frequency and service to Bellevue as possible, rather than to Seattle, and transit has always tried to influence where folks go and work.
Ross’s alternative proposals may be more efficient or provide better service for actual transit riders, but who can know in 2021, and the fact is they would be unpalatable politically on the eastside in 2023 anyway.
Bellevue wants all things on the eastside to run through Bellevue, and I think Issaquah sees that vision too. In 2016 I thought it was crazy a $4.5 billion line from Issaquah would run to S. Kirkland and not Seattle, but in 2021 that route (but not the cost) makes perfect sense, which explains the 554.
No one wants to drive or take transit to Mercer Island, or transfer there, because they are not going to Seattle, and even if they were Metro and ST know commuters from the Issaquah region would demand — and receive — one seat express buses to Seattle (and SLU). But Bellevue wants those Issaquah commuters to go to Bellevue now, to all those new, huge buildings in The Spring District and Wiburton. Bellevue seriously plans on usurping Seattle as the major regional city, which sounds crazy, but a lot less crazy than in 2008 when ST 2 passed, and even 2016.
The restructure makes sense if you understand its political goals, and few can predict ridership on transit in 2023, or transit revenue.
“Who knows what ridership on East Link will be, or across the lake, or on feeder buses.”
Now you say that. For the past several months you’ve been asserting that East Link ridership will be precipitously lower than expected.
“Begin with the fact this “restructure” is occurring 18 months into a pandemic, and East Link doesn’t open until July 2023….”How do you restructure transit in East King Co. when right now no one is riding transit in East King Co.? Based on the arbitrary route of East Link?”
That’s how long a restructure takes. Metro isn’t making final decisions now. It’s giving the public a year to debate possible alternatives, and then it will make a final proposal to the county council. That’s how the U-Link restructure was. (And probably Northgate Link, although I didn’t keep track of how many months or proposals that took). Before that, restructures had only four or six months of debate, and there were widespread complaints that that was too short for a large Link restructure.
According to the schedule in the first link in the article, the last draft proposal will be this winter. A final service change plan will be submitted to the county council in Summer-Fall 2022, or a year from now. Then the council will debate it and there will be another round of public hearings, and the council will give final approval in, I’m guessing, between October 2022 and April 2023. That would give Metro six months to rewrite schedules and hire/train/assign drivers for a September 2023 opening.
How much float time do East Link and Redmond Link have left? If they have six or nine months, they may be able to open sooner than September.
“Based on the arbitrary route of East Link?”
That’s part of why we’re building Link, to take over the core trunk corridor, and to reorient the bus network around it. That’s what medium-sized cities with three large job centers do. (The job centers being downtown Seattle, downtown Bellevue, and Microsoft/Redmond. And the emerging Spring District.) The route is not “arbitrary”. It goes in a “straight” line between the five highest-volume trip generators in the Eastside: downtown Bellevue, the Spring District, Overlake, Microsoft, and downtown Redmond. People from throughout the Eastside and Seattle and the rest of the ST district go to all of these. It also supports part of some trips to other job centers in Kirkland and Totem Lake, depending on where you’re starting from. And when I say “job centers”, several of them include a lot of retail and apartments and recreational destinations too, which all generate Link trips all day. And tech companies have a modified peak, not exactly 9-5.
All of the Eastside cities agreed that’s where the East Link corridor should be and endorsed it. The controversies were about the routing between the Mercer Island Bridge and downtown Bellevue, and surface/underground alongside City Hall. That was not a controversy about which job centers or urban villages or other important stations should be served, but about the routing in an “on the way” area between them, a gap that was essential to fill somehow.
The East Link corridor follows Forward Thrust’s general corridor in the 1970s. A few details have changed; e.g., the transit center is at 108th instead of Bellevue Way, and it may go further north (downtown Redmond instead of Overlake). But the general concept of I-90, downtown Bellevue, Bel-Red, Overlake, and Redmond has been the same since the early 1960s.
Mike, I have consistently said ridership on East Link will be much lower than originally estimated by ST when selling ST 2 and 3 (and the eastside’s contribution to DSTT2), which I think ST still estimates to be 43,000 to 52,000 boardings/day by 2026, which was fantastical pre-pandemic.
Do I think ridership will further decline post pandemic from WFH, and lower Lake Washington crossings from more eastsiders working on the eastside. Yes. Has ST re-estimated ridership post pandemic? No. Is transit ridership today way, way down on the eastside? Yes. Do I know the exact permanent decline? No.
But I think these factors have a lot to do with the current restructure that orients more bus feeder service to Bellevue than Mercer Island, especially from Issaquah, which I think is likely the future. I was trying in part to explain why the intercept on Mercer Island has decreased in intensity in the restructure.
I understand restructures take time for public comment and adoption, but still it is complicated by an 18 month pandemic whose end is not in sight. How does the public comment in a pandemic when many don’t know if they will have to return to an office, or where? How do companies plan after two years of working from home? How do you restructure transit if no one is riding transit at this time, and no one can predict ridership post pandemic in such a huge area? For the average commuter from Issaquah who has to return to an office in Seattle they will wait until their first transfer on Link and then scream bloody murder. They don’t read transit blogs or comment to Metro on restructures. They have lives.
My point was the routes are based on estimates of the future, both ridership and where riders might go, and give a glimpse of what Metro, ST and the eastside cities see that future as, and what they want it to be. As I noted, I think they see less ridership post pandemic, and more ridership within the eastside rather than to Seattle, at least for work commuters. I agree with that prediction.
Any rail route that runs through a tiny sliver of East King Co. is arbitrary, even before a pandemic that may change transportation needs and desires. I agree with the route to Bellevue although maybe not the route through Bellevue, but after that not so sure. Bus service at least from the eastside to Seattle was pretty good pre-pandemic with a lot of dedicated ROW’s.
However, due to a lack of density (and likely ridership) it will not be easy for Metro (or ST) to provide reliable and frequent feeder service to Link post pandemic. Lesser ridership means less farebox recovery which will only complicate matters.
We will know in 2024, I hope. I think Metro and ST and the eastside cities basically got the restructure correct based on what we know today, which is why the 554 runs to Bellevue and not Mercer Island which means Seattle. I think some on this blog miss the political angle to the restructure, and naturally want to restructure base on pre-pandemic ridership, even though the 550 and 554 saw steep declines in ridership pre-pandemic.
Quite frankly I think Mercer Island will be a very sleepy intercept when East Link opens, despite years of litigation over the issue. Pandemics and time tend to warp litigation, and just about all litigation that goes on long enough becomes moot. More than declines in ridership post pandemic I think the biggest change will be the decline in cross lake travel, both in cars and on transit. But who knows.
I think the new 554’s one-seat ride between Issaquah and downtown Bellevue that doesn’t take an hour is a good thing – especially since it’s frequent – should be retained.
I don’t think supplementing it with peak-hour routes to Mercer Island is really that problematic. If you’re not sure whether you’re going to make the last 215/269 out of Mercer Island, just stay on the train to South Bellevue, and you know that the 554 will always be running. I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal. Worst case, the last eastbound 269 of the day will run mostly empty because people are afraid of missing it and take the 554 instead. It’s not the end of the world.
So, I’m thinking:
– 554 – run every 15 minutes to Issquah, extend every other bus through Sammamish to SE Redmond station, serving all local stops, replacing the 269.
– 269 – run as proposed, continuing to Mercer Island, but only during peak hours. Schedules within Sammamish would be coordinated so during rush hour, you get a bus every 15 minutes.
– 208 – Run hourly mostly as is. Maybe skip local service in Issaquah and just go to the transit center. Would be nice to add at least hourly Sunday service.
– 215 – run as proposed, but peak hours only
The savings can be used to run buses around Bellevue and Redmond more frequently for more hours of the day.
“How does the public comment in a pandemic when many don’t know if they will have to return to an office, or where?”
The same way they evaluate it at any other time. “How does it get me between my current house and office? How would it affect me if, in the future, I live somewhere else (choose any neighborhood), have a different job location (choose any job center), and perhaps a different kind of job? How does it affect most Eastsiders, going from their typical homes to their typical workplaces? How does it affect non-work trips, off-peak trips, and jobs not in downtown Bellevue, downtown Seattle, or Microsoft? How does it affect people who don’t have high-paying tech jobs?”
“For the average commuter from Issaquah who has to return to an office in Seattle they will wait until their first transfer on Link and then scream bloody murder.”
You’re still focusing on Issaquah-Seattle commutes? That’s only a tiny percent of the Eastside public, and of even less importance than its numbers imply. The primary issue is to get the tens of thousands of residents all over the Eastside to jobs in downtown Bellevue, Microsoft, the Spring District, downtown Seattle, education at UW, and education at Bellevue College. And secondarily the medical workers on 116th and First Hill, and non-work trips of all kinds. Preserving an Issaquah-Seattle one-seat express ride of very fast transfer is down in a lower tier. Some Issaquahites will doutbless learn about the 554’s and 21x’s truncations when Link opens, and will doubtless cry bloody murder, but that happens every restructure. The governments try to publicize the changes as widely as they can. They’ve asked us in other restructures or Link alignments, “How can we reach more people?” There’s a limit in what they can do. Although I’ve argued they should send a postcard to every residence. That still might not help though, because some people won’t read the postcard and may just throw it away thinking it’s irrelevant junk. The people who do that overlap with the people who won’t know about the truncations until they occur.
If you’re not sure whether you’re going to make the last 215/269 out of Mercer Island, just stay on the train to South Bellevue, and you know that the 554 will always be running. I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal. Worst case, the last eastbound 269 of the day will run mostly empty because people are afraid of missing it and take the 554 instead. It’s not the end of the world.
Now you’ve killed off ridership on the express. Back up here: Why are you even running an express, anyway? Because the buses are really crowded. So now you have pushed all of those riders onto buses leaving South Bellevue during rush hour. Not only is it slow, it is crowded, and now you are spending extra money running those buses. So the only solution is to run the expresses (as expensive as they are) excessively, giving them plenty of cushion.
That is all good and well, but it doesn’t give you money to spend on buses like the 270. There is only one way to save a significant amount of money when it comes to Issaquah service, and that is to send all the buses from Issaquah to Bellevue.
Yes, it means that a rider from Issaquah to Bellevue has to make a same-stop transfer in Eastgate. Big deal. There just aren’t that many people headed to downtown Bellevue from Issaquah. They can transfer.
Oh, and we are just ignoring the fact that during rush hour, every trip from the Issaquah Transit Center goes to South Bellevue. They are being sent the slow way. Do you want to reduce frequency on the 270 some more so that Issaquah peak riders get an additional fast ride to Mercer Island as well?
The only reason ST wants this route is that it is remarkably similar to what ST wants to build as a rail line in the future. It is poorly thought out. Metro can only do so much, and fixes that don’t fundamentally change the routing will leave Issaquah and Sammamish with too much service, poor service, or (paradoxically) both.
Deleting the 268 bus will be a disservice to the primary riders that used it who will be faced with a much longer commute to Seattle as a result. The alternative will be to walk the the light rail stop, which will be a 15 to 25 minute walk from the SW Redmond neighborhood it served (or an added 30 to 50 minutes to a daily commute on just one end). Or 268 riders will have to take the 269 bus to Bear Creek or perhaps the light rail station – it isn’t clear whether Bear Creek Park & Ride will continue to exist (or provides any benefit by existing).
Taking light rail to Seattle will be nice, but travelers still need to get to it, and not everyone will want to drive and park there , or use a bike or scooter just to do so.
So, yeah, there’s justification for keeping it if there’s justification for keeping the 545 Sound Transit bus.
From a transit perspective, I agree, there is really no reason anymore for Bear Creek P&R to exist, and I would be perfectly fine if Metro were to sell the land to a housing developer to do something useful with it.
Even today, Bear Creek P&R has very limited use, especially outside of rush hour when the 268 isn’t running. The 250 detours to serve it, but for what purpose? Nobody already in their car is going to park at a park and ride to go ride the 250.
My unconfirmed theory about the 250 is that most of the riders who use the Bear Creek P&R stop (which is not that many to begin with) are not actually going to Bear Creek P&R at all, but walking a few blocks to one of the nearby big box stores (Fred Meyer, Target, or Home Depot). It’s not super-convenient, but the transit system really doesn’t offer any better options to get there, so people take what’s given to them.
My personal opinion is that the limited number of users of the Bear Creek P&R stop is insufficient to justify the delay to everyone else on the bus to serve that stop. The 250 should just take the direct route into Redmond and those that want to get to southeast Redmond would simply need to transfer. The 542 is planned to run all-day every 30 minutes. With the 545 gone, I think that’s a mistake. For the same reason the 270 should run all-day 7 days/week every 15 minutes, the 542 should do the same. It would have the side effect of making the transfer to SE Redmond a lot less onerous.
Bear Creek P&R today doesn’t have limited use. It is a terminus and transfer point. And it will need to remain so until the Marymoor Village or SE Redmond stop is in place. After that having two such transfer points makes no sense and I suspect Bear Creek P&R will be closed.
You mention that the 545 will be eliminated. Where is that info? Certainly I can see the 545 going away, but the 268 is different and only ran a few times in the morning to Seattle and a few times in the afternoon to Redmond – but it was the most convenient commute for people who took it. Still that commute time was long, and the light rail commute speed up is entirely negated if you have to walk for 25 minutes to get to the stop.
I expect the parking garage they are building at Marymoor will be at capacity if transit use returns to anything near pre-pandemic. Bear Creek P&R will remain to provide overflow capacity. As such only a few shuttle routes would need to serve both stops during the AM/PM peak. Another use would be to focus Redmond/Kirkland routes terminating at Bear Creek. That would “drive” people wanting to get to anywhere in Kirkland to use that lot instead of the garage at Marymoor. For people in Kirkland/Totem Lake trying to get to Link they would transfer in DT Redmond.
“Bear Creek P&R today doesn’t have limited use. It is a terminus and transfer point.”
Technically true, but you have to look at what you actually get to transfer to. Today, there are four routes serving Bear Creek P&R – 250, 268, 269, and 545. That’s it. Let’s say you get on the 250 up on Avondale and are forced to sit through the Bear Creek P&R detour. What transfer opportunities are you actually getting out of it?
The 545 connection there has no value since you can just switch to the exact same bus further ahead at Redmond Transit Center. 250->545, skipping Bear Creek P&R would save you time. The 268 runs peak-hours only and has zero value any other time. Even during peak hours, skipping Bear Creek P&R on the 250 and catching the 545 at Redmond Transit Center is still probably faster, considering that the 545 runs much more often. That leaves 250->269 as the only connection where the 250’s detour to Bear Creek P&R provides any nonzero value whatsoever. But, the 269 only goes to Sammamish and Issaquah, so hardly any people are actually making that connection. If you really want to provide it, the solution is to extend the 269 to serve downtown Redmond (which also makes the standalone 269 more useful to Sammamish residents), not detour the 250 to connect to the 269 at a deserted park and ride.
So, with all the bus connection opportunities gone, what’s left? Nobody already in a car has reason to park at a park and ride to ride the 250. I guess somebody without a car could take the 250 to catch a carpool or vanpool that meets at Bear Creek P&R, but that’s really an edge case, and if the bus didn’t run there, the carpool or vanpool could easily shift to pick up somewhere else.
So, that leaves basically no reason left to ever use that stop on the 250 except to walk 1/4 mile to one of the big box stores that happens to be down the street from the park and ride.
Metro needs to stop this fetish with having local buses chase after imaginary riders by detouring to park and rides, in a failed attempt to lure riders out of their cars. The only buses that should be going out of their way to serve park and rides are long-distance express buses that somebody might actually drive to a park and ride to ride.
Even that, Metro should revisit in the light of COVID. Anecdotally, park and ride ridership virtually everywhere has diminished to near zero. My bus, the 255, now routinely goes in and out of South Kirkland P&R with zero people getting on or off, even though ridership up at Kirkland Transit Center has somewhat recovered from a year ago. The P&R detour is looking more and more like a white elephant – for 98% of the riders, it’s a complete waste of time, simply so the priviliged 2% (who are the most important riders because they come with a car, which makes them **choice riders**) get the comfort of not having to wait for a bus out on the street like everybody else.
The proposal is to extend the 542 to directly serve Bear Creek P&R.
That should be an improvement over the 268 for a trip starting at Bear Creek? Riders gain a transfer to East Link and still keep a 1-seat ride to Seattle.
A walk to Bear Creek P&R is no better than a walk to the light rail stop. They will both suck.
Just keep the 268!
Wow, are the 84th stops on the 271 that lightly used? I know there’s a golf course that cuts off half the walk shed for most of 84th, so sending the 249 up 92nd makes sense in that sense, but geez. Presumably Metro thinks no one west of the golf course that isn’t within walking distance of the freeway station uses transit (or is willing to scream about the loss of the 271).
While service *from Bellevue College to Issaquah* on the 271 is replaced by the 202, most of the *routing* seems to be replaced by the 203, which stays on Newport Way between Factoria and Issaquah and serves the segment through Issaquah Commons, Gilman, and Front St used by most of the other Issaquah buses and existing 271 while the 202 uses the 554’s routing on Newport Way and Sunset Way after staying north of I-90 between Eastgate and the transit center.
Do both of the buses through Houghton (via Lake Washington Blvd/Lakeview Drive or 108th) turn to go across the lake or could either be sent down Bellevue Way? Perhaps then the 270 could be sent down 112th without sacrificing coverage on Bellevue Way. And why does the 249 stay on Northup Way to 124th, its walkshed crippled the whole way, then head down to Bel-Red Rd for a segment shared with the 226, and only at 132nd turn onto Spring Blvd for the segment of that street closest to Bel-Red Rd and the 226? Shouldn’t it turn onto Spring Blvd at 120th (thus directly serving the more western of the two Link stations) and stay there? Or even have the 226 parallel Link all the way from 116th to 20th and reserve 12th/Bel-Red for the 249? I get that the whole point of the Spring District is its proximity to Link with buses playing a secondary role at best, but having the winding milk run route serve a small section of Spring Blvd doesn’t seem to betray a lot of confidence on Metro’s part.
Please bring the light rail further east to Snoqualmie.
Bahaha! Oh wait, you’re serious. Let me laugh even harder. BAHAHA!
The opening of East Link should significantly improve the transit access from Snoqualmie into Seattle as those long bus routes can be truncation at Mercer Island and/or South Bellevue, rather than slog through Seattle traffic. The 215, if it needed to drive all the way into Seattle 3rd Ave, would have been too long of a route to operate reliably, but now with East Link the 215 should provide a level of connection from Snoqualmie to Seattle & Bellevue that hasn’t existed.
The ST district ends at Issaquah.
202 is certainly not a preview a Link Line. The 554 is the explicit preview for the Link Line.
Does the restructure really have a higher percent of coverage hours than the status quo? If so, what are all the routes that should maybe be reduced? This may affect what I do at the open house today. My default feeling is the frequent/coverage ratio is OK and not that much of a loss, not enough to rise up against the coverage routes. And the North Bend and Sammamish service I see as more than just “coverage”. North Bend is part of a strategic complete east-west corridor, and the north-south corridor between Issaquah and Redmond is also a strategic corridor.
The frequency/coverage ratio isn’t too bad during weekday daytime hours, but in evenings and weekends, far too much of what limited service hours are available are spent on coverage.
When the 250 and 270 are running at the same hourly frequency as the 249, that is a sure sign that far too much evening/weekend $$ is being spent on coverage.
A few highlights from the virtual open house today:
– Feedback on the 270’s route change was very positive. I was not the only one asking for better weekend frequency on it. Nobody seemed to miss coverage in Medina.
– The 251 will actually run from Redmond to Woodinville 7 days/week, not Monday-Friday only, as shown in the PDF.
There was a planner for each subarea, who described the routes and answered questions on the subarea. Since it was a covid-virtual meeting, the questions came in via chat. There were 80 messages in the chat; I didn’t read them to see if there were other comments besides the questions. What I noticed was slight concerns about the 545 deletion, 554 truncation, and tansfering from the Eastside to the airport. The latter will require going up to the surface at Intl Dist and back down to the other platform, and the questioner stressed that the escalators/elevators there are often broken. The answerer confirmed that you’ll have to go up to the surface, and missed the part about the hardship of broken escalators.
The 240’s planner said the reroute is to pick up some higher-density areas, and to replace routing lost by the 271 deletion. I didn’t hear any complaints about the long travel time from Newcastle, although I may have missed them.
I’ve ridden the 271 and its predecessors through Medina for forty years, and I’ve rarely seen anybody get on/off there. There may be peak hours. I get off there more than I’ve seen anyone else do so, either to go to Medina or to go down Lake Washington Blvd (the diagonal street that goes to Old Bellevue). Several years ago during an earlier restructure (it may have been re moving the 271 to Bellevue Way, or a recession cut), one Medina couple said they’d have to drive to the Evergreen Point freeway station and there wasn’t enough space to park there. They weren’t completely opposed to it but they said it would be some hardship. Other Medina residents, whatever they think, aren’t riding the 271 now.
Desperately need to install elevators / stairs to make the center platform permanent.
Nobody seemed to miss coverage in Medina.
Shocked! I just can’t believe nobody in Medina turned up to bemoan the loss of their one seat ride to the golf course. If the 249 stopped covering Enatai and Beaux Arts they’d be out with pitch forks.
With East Link and all the 405 STride changes I’m surprised there’s no mention of Houghton P&R. This lot is never full because it has such limited bus service. Yet it’s next to several apartment/condo complexes and on Old Redmond Rd. I don’t think there’s any bus route that goes from Kirkland via Hougton (Google) down Old Redmond Rd into DT Redmond. That route is actually much more transit friendly than NE 85th. It connects on 148th much better with RR-B than on 85th and goes past Redmond Town Center; most notably past the Death Star building.
I’ve sometimes wondered if Houghton should get more 405 buses; i.e., if it’s a lost opportunity. In the 80s the 340 stopped at 70th (Houghton), 132nd, and 160th, and that was it for Kirkland. The Kirkland-Redmond buses went on 70th (Old Redmond Road) and 80th, but not 85th. So Houghton was served by both of them. I always thought they should serve 85th, which is closer to downtown Kirkland and faster east-west. And now the 250 is on 85th and Stride will stop at 85th, so that’s what I wanted. But it seems like there should be something at 70th, both for the P&R and because there’s now a growing village there and the Google-area offices.
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