Although the north Eastside’s primary regional transit corridors are I-405 and SR 522, which have their own Stride bus rapid transit projects in the works, Metro identified several opportunities to optimize service in this area when the Link 2 Line to Redmond Technology (Overlake) opens in 2023 and extends to downtown Redmond in 2024.
Woodinville, Duvall, and Redmond Ridge will be one bus away all-day from Link. Peak-only service to Seattle will make stops in South Lake Union and no longer travel on local streets in Kingsgate. Peak-only service to Bellevue and Overlake is replaced by all-day service to Link.
That’s the gist of Metro’s proposal in this part of the Eastside. You can reference a map of current Eastside service with the proposal map above. Here are the details:
30-minute service all week on Route 535. Service increases on the forerunner to the Stride S2 Line between Bellevue and Lynnwood are proposed for 2022. Bothell, Brickyard, and Totem Lake will have fast access to Link at both ends of the line. It is not part of Metro’s restructure but worth mentioning again as it is a welcome addition in the interim as Sound Transit’s project realignment has delayed Stride BRT to 2026.
Duvall, Cottage Lake, and Redmond Ridge get hourly weekday service to Link via Route 224. Service increases from every 90 minutes to hourly, making travel in these outlying areas slightly easier. The 224 moves from Redmond Way to NE 76th St to directly serve the Downtown Redmond station. However, it will still operate weekdays only from 4:50 am to 8:00 pm.
Peak-only Route 232 connecting Duvall and Cottage Lake areas to Overlake and downtown Bellevue would be deleted in favor of more all-day service to Link on the 222 and 224.
No changes proposed for Route 225. It serves Kenmore, Finn Hill, Totem Lake, Rose Hill, and connects to Link at Redmond Technology station (Overlake Transit Center). Existing service is half-hourly during the day on weekdays and hourly after 7 pm and all day weekends.
A simplified Route 250 brings frequent service to Avondale with a catch. The 250 will directly serve Downtown Redmond station. The route east of downtown Redmond currently has two branches to either Avondale or Bear Creek Park & Ride. Metro proposes to simplify the pattern and have all trips extend to Avondale and serve the Bear Creek Park & Ride. The deviation is 0.5-0.75 miles longer than the direct route and requires traversing a busy intersection twice which adds minutes to every Avondale rider’s trip if they are not traveling to the businesses around the park & ride. An extended and frequent 542 would be the only other route serving the park & ride.
New Route 251 connects downtown Woodinville to Link and fills a transit gap in the Sammamish River valley. The 251 would run along Woodinville-Redmond Road (State Route 202) providing a connection to Link at Downtown Redmond and SE Redmond stations. Not only is this the most direct route between the two cities, it also runs the entire length of Woodinville’s brewery/wineries district as well as serving several industrial areas and parks. Service is proposed to run all-day and all-week every 30-60 minutes. Weekday service would end at 9 pm.
Woodinville and Kingsgate peak-only service would be restructured. A new peak-only Route 256 replaces routes 252, 257, and 311. It will take advantage of new transit/HOV ramps that allow it to use the I-5 express lanes to bypass congestion in the general purpose lanes. The new 256 is essentially the same as the existing 311 but serves South Lake Union via the Mercer St ramps on its way to and from downtown Seattle.
The 252 and 257, which run on local streets in the Kingsgate neighborhood north of the Kingsgate Park & Ride, would be deleted. Their local tails are lightly used and mostly duplicate all-day service that was restructured last year. Route 252 continues to be suspended for the duration of the pandemic. Riders can use all-day routes 231 or 239 to access the new 256 for service to downtown Seattle at the Brickyard Park & Ride or Totem Lake or Route 930 to Link in downtown Redmond.
The 237 Woodinville-Bellevue express is replaced by a transfer from the new 256 to the 342, 532, or 535 at Totem Lake Freeway Station for downtown Bellevue. Alternatively, Woodinville riders can use the new 251 to access Link in Redmond.
Hourly weeknight and weekend service would be added to Route 930 DART serving Kingsgate Park & Ride, Totem Lake, Willows Road, and Redmond.
Duvall is reconnected with Bothell and Woodinville via Route 931. This peak-only DART route beginning at UW Bothell will be changed to serve Duvall instead of Redmond, restoring a connection provided by Route 311 before it was cut back to Woodinville. Portions of the 931 between Cottage Lake and Redmond are replaced by all-day service on the new 222 and 251.
What do you think? Complete the East Link Connections survey on the proposed changes before October 25.
40 Replies to “East Link restructure: Bothell, Duvall, Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville”
I tried to argue against the 250’s Bear Creek Park and Ride deviation at the virtual open house last night and mostly got shot down.
My argument is that better access to a few big box stores you might visit a couple times per month is not worth it if it comes at the price of adding 5-10 minutes to every single trip in or out of your home to get to literally anywhere else. You would spend far fewer minutes dealing with the transit system overall if the trips you make every day are faster, even if it means putting up with an obnoxious transfer a couple times per month. Also, big box shopping trips are easy to avoid altogether by just shopping online and getting the merchandise delivered.
Many years ago, I used to live up on Avondale a tried riding a predecessor to the 250 to work a few times. The detour in and out of Bear Creek Park and Ride was excruciating and typically picked up only one passenger, if not zero. It was bad enough that I mostly abandoned the bus and switched to driving in the short term, moving out of that neighborhood altogether in the longer term.
Years ago, Metro tried that. They briefly eliminated the Bear Creek P&R diversion from the Avondale bound route. They made this change at the service change. There was such an outcry from some riders that Metro, within about a month or two, changed it back to the serve P&R. This might have happened when there was also a route number change, from … I forget what … into the 248.
I remember that too, but were the riders that complained really representative, or just the ones that had time to attend in person meetings in the middle of the day?
With any bus route, you can always add deviations to it that will save some people transfers in exchange for wasting time for everyone else. For example, imagine the D line detoured down Market St. to serve Old Ballard and turned around in the Ballard Locks parking lot. Terrible for most riders, but very nice for a few that live by the Ballard Locks. If you were Metro proposing straightening out the D line by eliminating the hypothetical Ballard Locks Detour, would you cave when that one person who benefits from the detour shows up at meetings and complains? Hopefully, not.
It’s the same here. Buses should stay in a straight line whenever possible, and the bar for adding deviations needs to be extremely high so that the network stays legible. If there existed a north/south route that went straight down 148th, I would consider Overlake Village to meet that high bar because the connection to Link is critical and the detour would also serve numerous apartments and jobs in the area, in addition to Link.
Bear Creek Park and Ride, on the other hand, does not meet this bar. There will be nothing to connect to except the same 542 you can catch at Redmond Transit Center. Target and Fred Meyer are not the kind of ridership generators as a Link station and Microsoft campus.
Metro, in general, has this fetish with detouring local routes to park and rides that is not justified. The 245 still detours to Houghton Park and ride, even though there is literally nothing to connect to except the same 245 going the other way. If we want to attract riders into the system, this kind of silliness needs to stop, as it is completely disrespectful of riders’ time.
At the very least, if the 250 must serve SE Redmond, they should move the stops around to stop closer to the big box retail people are actually riding to, rather than simply looping around in a deserted park and ride, chasing after imaginary park and ride drivers.
“ Metro, in general, has this fetish with detouring local routes to park and rides that is not justified.”
Yes, this seems true. It’s fine if there is not another transit center around for a few miles, but generally any “Link-less” P&R within 1-2 miles of Link should not get lots of local service.
Eastgate P&R is perhaps also overserved by local routes. It’s important to serve Bellevue College and some local retail, but the facility itself has little around it except parked cars.
There are plenty of places that are underserved with this restructure, but Avondale seems like one of only two areas where there is excessive service. I think the existing split seems better. This is more expensive, and while I’m sure Avondale riders appreciate 15 minute frequency in the middle of the day, it seems way out of whack with the rest of the system. The detour to the park and ride just makes it even more expensive. I would just compromise, and keep the split. I would rename the two parts though (to avoid confusion).
The big flaw that I see with the current routing is not the split, but that the eastward split doesn’t go far enough. I would loop around, starting and ending at the park and ride (https://goo.gl/maps/8AkZ8keroF6wY7KfA). That does a better job of covering things the area (the hospital, Costco, etc.). It puts the Park and Ride last, but I could live with that. Riders will still have the 542 as the bus to Redmond (which takes a more straightforward path). This just becomes a back-up if you miss the 542.
But I agree, the most sensible solution is to do away with the split, skip the Park and Ride, and just send the buses to Avalon. Riders from the park and ride have service via the 542, which runs every 10 minutes during rush hour, and every 15 minutes during the day. That seems more than adequate.
Would staying on 76th all the way to Redmond Way (going towards Link) be faster than crossing Avondale on Union Hill Rd twice?
The current route 250 schedule is real mess. At the start of service, buses serve both Bear Creek and Avondale. Then, around 9 AM each weekday, the split pattern goes into effect and lasts until about 4 PM. Then, in the eastbound direction only, the split resumes again at 6:30 PM, but for just one hour. (The split pattern does not occur on weekends). It is this kind of schedule madness that Metro is obviously trying fix and that part, I don’t blame them. So, the question is how to do it.
My personal opinion is to run the 542 every 15 minutes, send all route 250 buses to Avondale, and call it good. For a person on Avondale, I would argue that giving up the one-seat ride to big box stores where you can always shop online at is a small price to pay for a faster and more frequent bus to Redmond, which you have to pass through to get to literally anywhere else. If you really need to visit Target in person, you can still do it – it’s at least a transfer between two frequent routes, and from Redmond itself, there’s no transfer at all. With the 545 gone, Redmond-U-district should have 15-minute service on the 542, anyway, at least most of the day.
If it is really necessary to have the 250 directly connect Avondale to SE Redmond, then the route within SE Redmond needs to be revised to focus on the retail destinations, rather than the park and ride. You could do it like this (https://goo.gl/maps/96cyhLy5u5ypJWmPA), which takes essentially the same amount of time as the current detour, but serves the Target, Home Depot, and Fred Meyer better. Notice how I deliberately have the bus stay on the street as it goes by Bear Creek P&R to save time. With literally nothing to connect to there, except maybe carpools or vanpools, the park and ride is really an extremely minor destination, deserving of a pole-in-the-ground bus stop on the street as the bus goes by and nothing more.
The only reason for a bus to go in there at all is when the route ends there, and even then, only because it’s a good spot for Metro to have the bus layover and turn around. If the bus isn’t ending there, it shouldn’t go in there.
Just because the split is a bit confusing doesn’t mean it is bad. Look at the 3/4: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/schedules-maps/route/003-004.aspx. Based on the map, its not too complicated. The 3 goes to Madrona, the 4 goes to Judkins Park. Except that isn’t the full story. Sometimes the 3 doesn’t go to Madrona, but ends at 21st and James. Early in the morning, the buses start downtown; late at night they end there. Yeah, its confusing, but it has the most riders per mile of any bus.
Compared to that, this would be a piece of cake. Just add a number. Call the bus to Bear Creek the 260. There would be a big contrast between the tails of the 250 and 260. The park and ride is merely a place for the bus to layover and turnaround (as you note). At best it provides a backup for riders who miss the faster, more frequent 542. The 250 serves Avondale, an almost purely residential area. The 260 serves the almost purely commercial area around Bear Creek. As a result, they have very different travel patterns.
For example, westbound in the morning, you would see a lot of 250 buses — probably one every 15 minutes during rush hour. That would transition to one every half hour. You wouldn’t have many 260 buses heading westbound in the morning (at most hourly to provide a lifeline to late shift workers). As the day goes on, it becomes more of an even split. In the evening it reverses itself.
The point is, this isn’t that complicated, once you give each route a number. It does mean that Avondale riders have to transfer to get to some of those destinations, but that is true for the vast majority of people.
I could also see simply having a short and long version. The 250 just ends at downtown Redmond. The 260 ends in Avondale. The 260 is essentially just a rush-hour tail, similar to the 28. In peak direction, it runs every 15 minutes. During the middle of the day, it runs every hour, opposite the new 224. Outside of rush hour, I see no reason why a low-density residential area like this should have anything more than hourly service. Not when other, similar places have nothing. This means we don’t serve the Bear Creek commercial area, but no one was planning on serving it well anyway (the park and ride is not that central).
For that matter, we could just attach the Avondale tail to another, less frequent route. There aren’t many options, but the 930 sounds reasonable.
There are a lot of different options, but what is clear is that this is one of the worst parts of what is otherwise a great restructure. Way too much service is being wasted on a low density area, and on a park-and-ride that has a great alternative to the same location (the 542). It doesn’t even serve the commercial area within a mile of the park-and-ride lot.
In the 80s and 90s the short 3/4s didn’t have a number; the northbound ones said “To Downtown Only”, and the southbound ones said “To First Hill”. The southbound ones really went further to 21st & James, but that area didn’t have a well-known name.
I just noticed the 542 uses 76th to get to Bear Creek P&R, and the 224 uses it to get to Avondale (although the route-specific map suggests either Avondale or 76th could be an option), so there’s very little reason for the 250 not to use it unless the Union Hill/Avondale intersection is the lesser evil compared to Redmond Way/76th (or Metro is concerned about serving the people near the segment of Avondale between Union Hill and Redmond Way), certainly if it’s going to Bear Creek.
If Redmond Ridge could support 30-minute frequencies I would suggest sending a split route there. To better justify serving Bear Creek and distinguish it from the 224 a Redmond Ridge-bound route could take either Union Hill Rd or SR 202/208th (whichever is less steep), then 208th/Novelty Hill or Union Hill/238th/Redmond Ridge Dr (whichever serves more people), but no matter what it would probably result in the 224 having its frequencies being cut to the bone if not eliminated entirely since Duvall would be driving most of its demand.
Actually, I say that, but what if the 224 swung by Target and Fred Meyer as well? What if every fourth 250 was through-routed with the 224? That might be pretty confusing, but if the 224 could be bumped up to 30-minute frequencies it could create a combined-frequency corridor with the Avondale-bound 250. (Heck, the 269 could do the same thing at its existing frequency if the 250 wasn’t already long enough that even ending the 269 in Issaquah would probably make it too unwieldy and potentially unreliable.)
People that live in all those apts along 148th between about NE 29th Pl going all the way north to about 51st, which is currently on the 221 line, and take it to get to Fred Meyer, will no longer be able to get there after the 221 is deleted. The 245, which will turn at 40th, will get them to Overlake P&R, which is at least 1/3 of a mile from the store. There’s going to be big pushback on this change, and I predict Metro will have to alter some route so there’s a connection between the two areas.
South of 40th St, that’s now served on the 249.
North of 40th, they’d have to transfer or walk from Overlake P&R, but I think that’s a nitch case.
I don’t know why I didn’t see the 249 there. You are right! Nevermind.
The only “nitch” known to man was a Dismal one briefly inhabited by The Corps of Discovery in 1804.
I think you might have meant “niche”.
The 245 turns at 36th, so it’s not really that much of a walk. There is zero reason for anyone living in that area to rely on the 249.
The 249 is nearly a useless route, serving almost no trip pairs with enough of a time advantage of walking+other routes to be worth waiting for.
I don’t have a specific routing idea and I haven’t spent much time in this area, but it feels like the area around 148th Fred Meyer should have a north-south bus route better serving it.
Do you mean the one in Overlake near 148th and 20th? The 249 isn’t great, but the problem is that south of Bel-Red Rd, 148th runs pretty close to Kelsey Creek until about SE 8th, and from there to Bellevue College 145th Pl is closer to businesses and activity centers, so it’s not a great place to put a bus. Crossroads and Overlake P&R are just too much of a magnet for nearby north-south buses to justify them going out of their way to use 148th in-between.
I know that this idea might seem absolutely insane, but what if Metro was to cooperate with Community Transit and create connections between Duvall and Monroe, and between Woodinville and Snohomish?
(Right now, getting between these neighboring towns on transit is an epic journey that takes hours)
I agree. One logical way to do this would be to extend the 224 to Monroe. It’s just a matter of squabbling over who pays for it.
A Duvall-Monroe bus already operates and it connects with most trips on the 224 reasonably well.
Right, I forgot about the Snoqualmie valley shuttle.
Still, I think an extension of the 224 would be better service, as a one seat ride to Redmond should matter a lot more than a one seat ride to carnation and fall city. If SVT stopped in Duvall, the change would be mostly cost neutral.
Currently there’s the peak-only CT 424 Snohomish-Monroe-Woodinville-Totem Lake-downtown Seattle. I wonder if there’s demand for a commuter route to Redmond from those areas.
As for who pays for it… the area of Snohomish County between Woodinville and Snohomish voted to not join Community Transit many years ago. Now that the area has grown it might be worth another vote.
I’d love to see various CT and Metro cooperative routes. There’s a bunch of corridors that don’t stop at the county line, e.g., Highway 99.
Woodinville and Snohomish makes more sense to me. That can be extended to Monroe (and all the way to Gold Bar if they want). I would go a bit further than Woodinville, and connect to UW Bothell. I would do this after a lot of “BRT” work is done. From there you could catch a bus to downtown Bellevue, or over to Link, or south (on the new 251) to Redmond. I could see that working reasonably well with hourly service. The 109 is also hourly, and I could see them running opposite each other, since they share part of highway 9. This would definitely be a CT route, as it would have CT type ridership (as in very few riders, but a lifeline for those folks).
A couple of years ago, CT made kinda a big deal about new Highway 9 routes, numbered 109 and 209. The way I see it, they work with KC Metro or ST to add a third highway 9 route, route 509, running from Snohomish, Woodinville, Totem Lake, and ending at Bellevue. You could partially pay for that by ending the 424 at Monroe, since the more direct routes 109 and 509 would get you to Seattle a lot faster
What’s with the shaded “Highest Equity Priority Areas” ? It’s a great concept — but is it executed well? Is the definition too broad to the point that it’s not focused enough on more critical areas of equity concerns? It also seems mostly residential focused and based on census tracts rather than actual land uses.
It’s a subtle feature on the map, but to me the shading leaves a subtle message that areas in white don’t deserve service. Map readers are used to shading to represent all developed areas — not those just for equity priority.
Why is much of Bellevue’s downtown waterfront included in a Highest Equity Priority Area?
When I click on the hyperlink of the “North” map in this post, I get the “Central” map in the pop-up. I think you may need to fix the hyperlink.
So, some of my comments really belong in the Central discussion post. Sorry about that.
Fixed the link to North proposal map. Thanks for catching that.
The 251 is on the Woodinville-Redmond Road? I’ll finally be able to see Chateaux Ste Michelle.
The 931 seems like the most dubious route in the restructure. Are there really that many people in Duvall who want to go to Woodinville or Bothell or transfer there? It seems like in most cases they’d be better off going the other way via Redmond.
Duvall already has the 224 to Redmond so the 931 would be another option. It would be useful for UWB/CC students.
As someone who live in Duvall, yes I would love an easier route to Woodinville. Currently I have to take a very long bus ride to redmond first then a bus to Woodinville to get to my appointments
One change was a real head scratcher for me. It’s that the 237 is being deleted because it “duplicates the future I-405 BRT service.”
1. You mean the BRT that isn’t opening until 4 years after this restructure? It makes more sense if they instead referred to ST Express service in the corridor. But they didn’t; they said BRT, and said they’d cut service years before the (delayed) opening of the stated replacement bus line.
2. As far as I know, when Stride north does open, the plan is to run a peak-only ST Express route from Woodinville to Bellevue via I-405. That *is* the 237. And it’s every bit as duplicative as the 237 (and even more so, since it’ll be more frequent). So the plan as I see it is to cut the 237 because it duplicates *future* BRT service, but then bring back the 237 (as an ST Express route) when the BRT actually opens. It doesn’t make any sense.
it may be unclear wording. There have been several mistakes, contradictions, and ambiguities in this and previous Metro restructure descriptions. The 535 upgrade is the precursor to Stride. Metro may consider that enough mitigation to delete the 237 before Stride,. If ST later replaces it, that’s a different agency, with a different concern (Stride mitigation), and different people would be losing out (an ST Express route elsewhere).
But the restructure won’t necessarily happen all at once. One of the survey questions was whether some Redmond changes should happen once or twice (i.e., whether there would be interim routes between East Link and Redmond Link, or one change all at once that would leave service substandard for a few years). The Woodinville changes may be delayed until Stride and the replacement Woodinville-Bellevue start.
I just saw a double decker bus marked “Test” on the front heading towards the Northgate Transit Center. First one I have seen so far on Northgate Way.
I haven’t been paying much attention to buses since the start of the pandemic, but is this actually true: “The 252 and 257, which run on local streets in the Kingsgate neighborhood north of the Kingsgate Park & Ride, would be deleted. Their local tails are lightly used and mostly duplicate all-day service that was restructured last year. ”
When I used to ride the 311/257 on a regular basis (between Redmond to Bothell), the 257 tail was pretty heavily used. I would say roughly half the passengers on the 257 would be from Kingsgate P&R but the other half would get off at the various apartments along 132nd St and Juanita Woodinville. Probably no reason to run it past Brickyard P&R, but the initial tail was popular.
Local service in this area is 30 minute at best. If you’re trying to transfer from a bus that is often late coming out of Seattle, then you’re not going to rely on a local bus with frequency that low. This will only force more people into cars, either to the P&R or all the way to their destination.
Hello fellow former 257/311 rider!
The lightly used comment comes from my observation of the tail east of Brickyard during the pandemic. There are many more pickups east of the freeway as you and I have observed.
In an ideal world, there would be timed transfers between express and local service that minimizes transfer anxiety. But that requires a level of coordinated operation and transit priority that does not currently exist. I expect that HOV direct access on I-5 and SR 520 will improve reliability but it’s been years since I was a regular commuter. It could be way worse now (pre-pandemic).
When does Sound Transit begin testing 2Line Service? I read they are going to need a full year of testing . I assume testing will begin next year at some point.
Very good question. OMF-E was finished months ago because it was critical on the East Link Schedule to receive, assemble and test new LRVs for East Link. That seems to have slid with the budget collapse so my fear is the contractors will have East Link done and ready to go on time but ST has dropped the ball and won’t open on time. Looks like I’ll retire (from work or be 6′ under) before transit is of any use to me.
It looks like the tracks are done — but I am not sure. Much of the catenary wire has been strung over the summer but the Lake Washington segment still has no wires. Wires must be tightened and the electrified before they can be used.
I’ve been curious if it would make any sense to test vehicles on the bridge early by pushing a non-electrified train onto it. They tested the idea if light rail on a floating bridge extensively. I remain just a little bit fearful that something could still go wrong with the weight.
Anyway, it takes not only live catenary wires but probably signals to begin full testing.
A related timing question is this: Will ST bump up the frequency of the DSTT segment a few months before 2 Line opens? Like ST ran service to Northgate but kicked the passengers off at UW, I could see them doing something similar here. In fact, because it’s a brand new line, I think ST almost has to run five minute DSTT service a few months before 2 Line service begins to test the switching and signals — so will ST allow passengers into the line north of ID on those 2 Line trains?
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