Over 10 years ago (!) I wrote that rebuilding a short road near Bellevue College to support buses would straighten multiple Bellevue trunk routes and save millions in annual operating expenses. I’m pleased to announce that the project has now reached the municipal hype video stage:

Today, the 221, 226, 245, and 271 all travel in this corridor. The project page suggests that these trips could save about 6 minutes by taking a more direct route that avoids multiple turns.

The City of Bellevue, Bellevue College, and Metro contributed $270,000 to complete 30% design on this project, wrapping in Spring 2022. The City will pursue grants from all levels to complete the design and build the project. The cost was estimated at $4.4m back in ancient times, but the project manager says it is now up to $13-15m, partially thanks to better multimodal support than the old concept.

If I’ve counted correctly, there are 2,282 bus trips a week through this corridor. As the rule of thumb is that service costs $175 per hour, that comes out to about $2m per year in savings, or a yield of about 15%. If grants aren’t forthcoming, bonds would absolutely pencil out.

11 Replies to “Streamlined Bellevue College service may really happen”

  1. Glad to see this finally happening. But, it’s worth pointing out that when cars have to make a similar detour, the time to fix it, is far, far less than 10 years. For instance, imagine if a tree fell on 148th Ave., blocking the roadway, forcing a 6 minute detour to 156th. That tree would be gone within an hour. Even when the fix costs hundreds of millions of dollars (e.g. west Seattle bridge), the turnaround time is still far less than 10 years.

    Essentially, we have problem where people say “if you don’t like it, just go get a car”, which leads to apathy, and the transit problems just never get fixed.

    1. I’m not sure what the service costs were in 2011, but assuming it tracked inflation, the $4.4 million project in 2011 would have paid for itself in 3 years instead of 7. If anyone wants an inside look into Sound Transit’s construction costs, HNTB is hiring…

  2. I find their map confusing. From what I can tell, this is what a bus would do: https://goo.gl/maps/EcsTbpgNKULbynpYA. After that point, I think the buses would split. Some would go north via 145th Place. Others would keep going across on 24th, and turn left on 148th. The current route is like so: https://goo.gl/maps/AEE8cRpLRMQFoCCS6, before the buses make that same split.

    It is also quite possible that this route will be fast enough that it will be used every time. Right now it is confusing, as some bus stops are only active if the school is in session.

    1. Interesting. I just realized that this new route works much better if routes that continue onward to Factoria are allowed to skip the Eastgate P&R bus bays and stop only by the freeway station. Hopefully, Metro will do this. It will be agonizing to be forced to watch the 554 go by while your bus loops downstairs into and out of the bus bays before you can get off, and having to wait an entire half hour for the next one.

      1. Yes, which makes we wonder if some of the routes will see an adjustment. The 245, for example, will likely skip the park and ride. The 271 would have to loop around if they want to continue to serve Eastgate Way. It would be faster though, to just go to 36th, and head to 150th. Of course it is unlikely they will do anything that major prior to East Link.

        The first cut at an East Link based restructure had several ways of serving the area:

        202/226 — Skirt the freeway by just running on Eastgate
        240 — Goes north-south over the freeway
        245, 223 — Serves the north, and ends at the park and ride.
        241 — Serves the south, and ends at the park and ride.

        There are no proposed routes that get off the freeway, and then go north (or south for that matter). I think that would have merit, but its not part of the current plans.

        The big advantage is for buses like the proposed 240. It just keeps going north-south. It makes a very good connection with the I-90 buses while quickly serving BCC from either direction. Buses like the 245 will probably have a minor change. It will be faster, but it will continue to have an awkward transfer to the freeway buses. The proposed 241 will skirt the college while providing a good connection with the I-90 buses.

        Ideally there would be a layover on the south side of the freeway, so that buses that serve the north and end around Eastlake could make that connection to the I-90 buses. I don’t see how they could pull that off though.

      2. Given that this is Metro we’re talking about, I’m going to predict that, even with the streamlined route through Bellevue College, the new 240 will still waste time detouring into the Eastgate P&R bus bays.

        I hope I’m wrong, but Metro has a long history of accepting detours into park and rides and transit centers without bothering to even ask whether or not riders are actually better off from it. Especially when inertia from an existing route is involved.

      3. I doubt it. With 5 buses serving the park and ride (by my count) I think they’ll skip one. The only thing it gets you is a better transfer to the 202, as every other bus connection shares a stop (or one across the street). The 202 runs so infrequently it isn’t worth worrying about.

        I doubt very many people will use the park and ride for that route. My guess is most of the drivers will walk up to I-90 and take an express to Mercer Island. If you are headed to downtown Bellevue, you will park at South Bellevue, and if that doesn’t work, park in that lot, and catch the 554. Likewise if you headed to the Bellevue Way part of downtown. I don’t see much point in parking there and taking the 240. There is very little reason to detour to that lot.

      4. How busy with non-bus traffic is the 142nd Pl overpass? Right now it consists of one lane in each direction, a northbound-only bike lane, and no buffer space whatsoever from the sidewalks. How comfortable would Metro, Bellevue, and WSDOMA be with buses stopping on there as it stands? For that matter, considering the width of the sidewalks, how many people could feasibly wait for a bus there?

    2. I have question for you.
      How about the disabled?
      Will they be able to get around?
      Some of walk to school, will it
      be safe for them.
      A lot of us take metro, will they
      be able to drop them off by then.
      We really need a bus stop by the
      N building. It would save time by not going round campus .
      That would be great for some of us.

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