Light rail tracks running toward Northgate Transit Center (Lizz Giordano)

Metro usually gathers a citizen sounding board when it’s planning a major service change. It’s a way to gather impressions after detailed technical discussion instead of drive-by comments.

They’re currently collecting applicants for the service change associated with Lynnwood Link. If you’re willing to approach it with an open mind, think about the community as a whole instead of your own needs, and commit the necessary time, it can be a rewarding experience and do some good for the region. Please consider it!

29 Replies to “Join the Lynnwood Link Mobility Board”

  1. I hope there can be someone on the board willing to stand up for riders vs. narrow interest groups. In other words, someone who advocates frequency and is willing to make coverage tradeoffs to get it vs. someone who simply asks the bus to detour into the parking lot for whatever their pet interest group happens to be.

    I also hope, this isn’t like the East Link restructure meetings, where, they took the “equity” thing too far, essentially outlining specific demographic groups that the bus was supposed to be for, based on income, skin color, and disability status, and if you didn’t belong to any of those groups, your opinion would not be valued.

    1. Asdf2, I agree with you that using “equity” to design a transit restructure, especially on the eastside, makes little sense. I get the argument some make, that folks who ride transit during a pandemic are folks who must ride transit so allocate service there (which really isn’t the eastside), but also Ross’s argument that equity IS ridership. Not that many people ride transit because they have a ton of other options. They are on transit because they have to be, no matter what color their skin is, so allocate service based on where the riders are.

      When it comes to the eastside transit restructure however I think Metro and the surrounding cities got it right, and Metro in many ways was the dose of reality for ST’s crazy ridership assumptions, and decision in 2017 to end buses across the bridge span to goose ridership numbers. The pandemic also changed things.

      Bellevue has changed its mind, certainly when it comes to the Issaquah–Sammamish Plateau — and now wants those workers to go to Bellevue to fill those brand-new towers rather than Seattle. I think that is where those workers want to go to as well, although not five days/week. It never made sense to make Mercer Island a major bus intercept because you don’t put a major intercept where no one ever goes otherwise, and is basically nowhere.

      The reality is after East Link opens buses will still be the transit workhorses, there will still be huge holes in first/last mile access, fewer will want to commute to Seattle or commute at all, and right now the eastside is not really sure what its mobility will look like post pandemic. The reality is other than work commutes — especially to Seattle — eastsiders drive, especially with so much free parking and little traffic congestion, and our lifestyles including kids. Kind of anti-equity in Ross’s equation, so how do you allocate transit in that scenario?

      I also think Metro was more rational and understood East Link does not serve First Hill or SLU, areas where eastsiders work, eastside riders are going to only transfer so many times and getting from their doorstep to a park and ride or feeder bus is the first seat/transfer, and no commuter transfers three times to go anywhere.

      The 630 proves that, and so does running express buses from Lake City during peak hours (if the peak commuter returns). I just have a feeling Metro understood Bellevue will object if Issaquah commuters to Seattle are driving to the S. Bellevue Park and Ride to avoid a feeder bus, and Issaquah will demand express buses to First Hill and/or SLU, or just a one seat ride to downtown Seattle (if there are any commuters going to downtown Seattle). It is kind of pointless to tell Issaquah it is being privileged if it just wants the same thing Lake City got, in a subarea with cash coming out its ears.

      Depending on whether workers return to offices East Link could have very low ridership. East Link was always all about the work commuter, especially cross lake, and today the 550 and park and rides are empty, and the 554 will go to — surprise — Bellevue Way when East Link opens. Where did all those commuters go? The point of transit, certainly light rail, is you take it from suburbia to an urban city. No one takes transit from one part of suburbia to another part of suburbia because what do you do when you get there?

      I think the bones of the eastside transit restructure make sense, in a huge area with little density in which transit makes little sense to begin with, but if the commuter does not return the transit capacity is much too great. The subarea has the money for frequency despite poor ridership, but that is hardly a transformative transit system.

    2. Race is a big part of it. The collecting applicants link says they are looking for people who are interested in “… drawing connections between racial equity, transportation issues, and access to opportunities.” So, they aren’t looking for people who just want to talk about transit. They won’t be chosen to participate. They are looking for people who want to talk about race and transit.

  2. Just an observation that this is for the King County Metro part of the restructure. That’s generally far north Seattle, Shoreline and Lake Forest Park — and maybe Kenwood and Bothell.

    1. Metro organizes it but they’re usually joint Metro-ST restructures. ST gives its ST Express proposals to Metro and Metro includes them. It has to, because the ST Express routes determine what Metro will do around them. Does it say the ST bus restructure will be separate?

      1. I would imagine the discussion with ST is going to be pretty short:

        Metro: Hey, are you going to send the 522 to 145th?
        ST: Yep.

        That’s it for this restructure. In contrast, the discussion between Metro and Community Transit could be a lot more interesting (as covered in a recent post). For that matter, Community Transit changes themselves (ones that don’t effect Metro) could be very interesting. This is what I think Al is getting at. Those changes won’t be covered by this committee.

      2. That is what I was getting at, RossB. Since Metro already looks to Northgate as the transfer point, I’m not expecting a radical restructure but instead more of a tailored one. I don’t see the effort being anywhere as radical as Metro restructuring was for U-Link or Northgate.

        At first glance, it seems logical to route a bus to just go to the nearest Link station. However, riders may want to transfer from one bus to another and relying on Link (and a double transfer) may not be the best systems approach. In particular, Stride at 145th will be an important trunk on a map but will its riders just go to Link or will a good number desire Metro transfers too? Should Metro create a transfer hub at one of the three stations or just continue to radiate out from Northgate?

      3. Since Metro already looks to Northgate as the transfer point, I’m not expecting a radical restructure but instead more of a tailored one. I don’t see the effort being anywhere as radical as Metro restructuring was for U-Link or Northgate.

        I disagree. Buses are routed to Northgate because it the northern terminus. In general, it is not a good transfer station. It is very time consuming to serve, from every direction. It requires several turns to get there, and is essentially an east-west dead end. The only corridor that works even reasonably well is southwest to northeast (85th and Greenwood to Lake City). That is one of the few through-routes that would not involve backtracking (i. e. the bus would always be going the same general direction). Everything else is either a dead end or a time consuming detour. Ending at the station is often sensible from a service cost standpoint, but it is less than ideal. Imagine if the 45 just ended at Roosevelt Station, or the 62 had to do a huge detour just to connect to Link. This would make things a lot worse for riders.

        This is why ST has largely ignored it for the 522 corridor. They aren’t sending buses there now, nor will they send them there in the future. It is a destination in itself, which means that it will still have plenty of bus service, but I expect a lot of service to shift elsewhere.

        For example, ST and Community Transit will abandon it, for stations to the north. Metro will do likewise with express buses, like the 301. It gets a bit trickier for the all-day buses. It makes sense to shift the 75 to serve 130th, but that would leave a service hole on 5th. You can backfill with other buses, like the 345/346/347/348, but that may leave areas with less frequency. Overall, I do expect fewer buses going to Northgate, because while it is a destination, it isn’t like the UW.

        But in general that is the challenge with Northgate. From the standpoint of connecting to Link, it is one of the worst stations in the north end. Yet it is a bigger destination than every station area north of the UW, worthy of serving in its own right. Balancing these two dynamics will be tricky.

      4. Oh I’m not saying that Northgate as a transfer point is great! I agree that it has major locational problems!

        The advantages of the transit center location was built on two principles — walking to a regional mall and having freeway access for express buses. Those have both recently eroded away.

        I’m not sure if the residents in this area are up for moving the transfer location though. Remember it was just last year that service was shifted to Northgate!

        It’s certainly possible to decentralize the transfer point to every station. However, unless Metro routes are converted away from straight lines to “L” and “U” and “C” shapes, a short Link ride and a double transfer would end up being required for many local trips. If Link wasn’t a straight line (with turns like Chicago’s Brown Line) then straight line routes would make more sense.

        Metro has to figure out where drivers should take a break too.

        Locationally, I see Roosevelt as a better location to feed buses than Northgate. U-District would be better on a map but congestion makes that less advantageous.

        Then the question seems to become where on Link a further north Metro layover should be. I could see advantages and disadvantages to picking 185th, 148th or 140th.

        My take would be to steer routing to 185th. It’s near the edge of the Metro service area so it’s a good place to create a layover. It’s also not in a freeway interchange so buses can more quickly move away from the station. I don’t see Stride as feeding other routes with riders at 148th. 130th isn’t designed well for lots of buses.

      5. “I see Roosevelt as a better location to feed buses than Northgate.”

        That might be a possibility. Roosevelt has a surprisingly large variety of businesses and parks for its size. It’s a natural transfer point for routes in all directions like the 45, 62, and 522. And it has gotten more multifamily housing and is near a high school. That gives a lot of reasons to make it a major a transit hub.

        Historically, Northgate had more malls and chain stores that weren’t available in the inner city or anywhere else closer than Southcenter or Bellevue Square, so that drove people to Northgate. But now the malls have gone, and the other stores are less diverse or have more branches in central Seattle or near-north Seattle, so the difference between Northgate and Roosevelt isn’t as wide.

        I’ve found with Northgate Link that I’m going to Roosevelt more than I’m going to either Northgate or U-District. Part of that is because I’m older and have spent so many decades in the U-District that I’m a bit over it, but part of it is because of the increasing constellation of destinations and transfers in Roosevelt. Maybe it would be good to make it more so. I’m not sure if it can take all of Northgate’s North Seattle transfers, but it’s worth looking at if it can take more of them.

        As for the 75 on 5th, Metro is clearly headed to rerouting the 75 west on 130th as soon as 130 Station opens. This was an interim step to prepare for it. I think the last Metro Connects had a backfill route for 5th. It may have been the Fred Meyer to Fred Meyer route, or an east Greenlake route (where the 16 and 26 were and the 20 is now).

  3. Questions about the service’s opening day:

    1. The Metro announcement says that five stations will open “by 2025”. Four will open in mid-2024 with 130th St announced for 2025. What’s the actual targeted first day of the restructured service?

    2. 522 Stride is scheduled for 2026. Should this focus on pre-Stride or post-Stride?

    It seems disruptive to massively restructure after periods possibly as short as 12-18 months. Surely some phased route adjustments will be recommended as these two major systems changes happen several months to two years after the initial Lynnwood Link opens.

    And all it takes is an opening day delay to complicate the first day scheduling. I would recommend that 522 Stride not open until Lynnwood Link opens. Right now it happens two years later so it’s not a problem — but there could be problem if the rail stations get massively delayed for some reason.

      1. Thanks! I see the assumed opening dates buried in the report even though they aren’t fully listed on the summary page.

        There are many opening dates between mid-2024 and end of 2026! It’s exciting — but potentially confusing to riders if there are significant and frequent service changes as a result. This will require lots of service juggling.

      2. You’re quite welcome. I think ST is appropriately quite concerned about the ongoing concrete labor dispute and its impact on construction schedules for multiple projects.

        On an unrelated note, be sure to check out pages 65-67 regarding the T-Link Hilltop extension project and its associated budget (it’s about $100M over its original estimate) and schedule mess. Sadly, not very much gets reported about this particular project due to its relatively small price tag but it has been a capital project plagued with significant problems.

    1. Don’t delay opening anything – if there’s a period of duplicate service, then so be it

      1. It isn’t a matter of duplicate service. Metro isn’t going to do both — where would they get the money?

        For example, I am pretty sure Metro will send the 75 on 125th/130th over to Greenwood, and then up to Shoreline College once the station is added. This makes the northern part of the 345 redundant. If you keep the 345, you have to have cutbacks somewhere.

        In the short term, this would create other problems. Right now the 75 ends at a Link Station. If this change is made when Link gets to Lynnwood, it would not. It would be like ST sending the 522 to 145th (a bit early).

        There really are only a few options:

        1) Wait until 130th is done to make the changes.
        2) Take a two-step process, ignoring the churn. This could mean bus routes changing twice within a relatively short period.
        3) Make a two-step change, as described below (minimizing churn).
        4) Make the long term change as soon as Lynnwood Link opens, even though it could hurt short term ridership.

    2. I’ve also noted the unusual situation with Lynnwood Link, and how it may be a phased restructure. My guess is Stride won’t an issue, as I expect ST to send the 522 bus to the station at 145th the day it opens, just as they modified the 522 bus when Northgate Link opened. This change will allow Metro to adjust their routes as appropriate.

      130th is a different matter. It doesn’t make sense to move routes around for a station that doesn’t exist. Thus I expect a two phase change. When 130th opens I expect a cascade of changes, which means each phase will be significant.

      I think it is easiest to start by creating a plan for what it will eventually look like, then work backwards, and see what part can be implemented right away. Otherwise you would change a route twice in a fairly short period. I’m guessing that about half the route changes will take place when Link gets to Lynnwood, and the other half when 130th opens.

      1. That would be my suggestion too, Ross.

        My concern would be if Metro ends up adjusting nothing for 130th and the station is barely used. Since there isn’t much activity at the station, most boardings will be transferring riders. However, 148th and 185th are getting intentional transit centers nicer than 130th St so I could see 130th relegated to “drive by” status.

      2. My concern would be if Metro ends up adjusting nothing for 130th and the station is barely used.

        That is highly unlikely, given the only reason it is being created is to connect to Metro buses. The Metro planners I’ve talked to consider it extremely important. Having the buses ignore Mercer Island (given the public opposition to them) seemed more likely, and yet Metro is clearly going to serve that station (as well they should). I may argue about some of the changes that occur with a restructure, but skipping 130th would be the biggest, most shocking mistake Metro has every made (by a huge margin). President Inslee seems more likely.

        I also wouldn’t say that the station at 148th is better than 130th from a bus connection standpoint. Buses through-routing east-west on 148th will likely do a loop within the station, and then dogleg to 155th. In contrast, buses on 130th will just make a stop, and keep going straight, the way they do for the Roosevelt Station (one of the bigger bus-train transfer stations). There is really no correlation between a transit center and how many transfers occur there. Bellevue and Northgate have a fair number of transfers, but they are dwarfed with all of the transfers downtown. The U-District has a lot of transfers, and the amount of space for buses (largely for layovers) has nothing to do with it. They would have them either way. It is really about geography, and the geography favors the 130th station.

      3. I wouldn’t call the transit center at 148th “better”. It is indeed horrible for through-routed buses.

        My comment is only to note that intentional bus transit centers have more layover space for drivers to take a break and places to turn buses around.

      4. 148th is only horrible for through-routed buses that use 145th to cross I5, of which there may be none. A through-route connecting to Shoreline CC should use 155th & 5th and not loop through the TC, in which case the station location is just fine. Whatever the route losses by doglegging it gains back by using the interchange-free 155th to cross I5.

        Will there be any other through-routes? Service on 145th itself west of the station can come from extending the 28 to terminate at the station, rather than terminating at Linden. I suppose if there is a future 304 that terminates at the station, that route would backtrack.

      5. My comment is only to note that intentional bus transit centers have more layover space for drivers to take a break and places to turn buses around.

        Yes, but that is of limited value. Link runs north-south through the center of the city. It doesn’t make sense to run an east-west bus to the station and just stop there. ST is doing that merely for political reasons — the bus should continue to Shoreline College. Layover/turnaround space still has some value though. It is handy for north-south buses that end there. In the case of 145th though, I don’t see any reason why any bus should end there.

        In the case of 130th, there is layover space nearby (I’ve been told that one of the CT buses currently lays over there). A bus could layover there if we wanted. Again, what would make sense is to divert a north-south bus. For a bus heading south, this doesn’t make much sense (they should end at Northgate — a much bigger destination). A bus on the west side (Meridian) is likely to connect to Link at Northgate or Roosevelt (and continue to serve the north end), so again I don’t see much point in ending one of those buses there. The only possibility I see is sending the 67 straight on Roosevelt/15th to Pinehurst, and then over to the station. This would essentially replace the 73. I would rather end it by the Pinehurst Safeway (saving additional money) or continuing on to where the 73 ends now (fully replacing the 73).

        148th is only horrible for through-routed buses that use 145th to cross I5, of which there may be none. A through-route connecting to Shoreline CC should use 155th & 5th and not loop through the TC, in which case the station location is just fine. Whatever the route losses by doglegging it gains back by using the interchange-free 155th to cross I5.

        I agree. It is similar to 130th in that it is less than ideal, but not horrible. In the case of 130th, transferring to Link might involve crossing the street, but at least through-riders will have a fast trip. With 145th it is the opposite. Transfers will be fairly smooth, but through riders will have to wait for the bus to loop around the station before getting back onto 5th.

        In both cases, ST could have done better. They could have put the 148th station at 155th. That would enable buses to get there faster, without asking Shoreline to widen the street. The station could straddle 155th, which means the transfer would be just as easy as planned. The 522 Stride line would serve part of 15th, where there are way more people and businesses, and yet get to the station at roughly the same time.

        For 130th, of course, they simply needed to have the station straddle the station.

      6. I should be clear that having a transit center at your terminus is a very good idea. In the case of Lynnwood, it will add value even if it isn’t the long term terminus, as I expect several express buses to end there. Likewise, the transit center at Northgate makes sense given its location. I’m not totally opposed to them. I just believe there importance is exaggerated. There are lots of places where they simply aren’t needed, despite a massive amount of bus to rail transfers.

        Often this shows that we are doing the right thing (e. g. U-District Station). Imagine if the Northgate State was not on a dead end, next to the freeway, but on Northgate Way and Roosevelt. Bus connections would be much easier, and yet it is quite possible not a single bus would end there.

        The big transit center at Northgate is only there because the station is in a poor location for transfers. The transit center at 145th is only there because ST had no interest in connecting the various northern suburbs with each other. These are flaws in our system, not strengths. I’m glad there is a good place for the buses to turnaround and layover, while providing riders with a decent transfer experience. But I would be happier if the stations were in better locations, and transit centers weren’t be needed. (To be clear, building an ideal Northgate station would have cost a bundle, and probably wasn’t worth it.)

      7. 145th is not ideal, but it’s one of the few places you can cross I-5 without a major interchange. So, you could at least have some buses cross the freeway there, unlike 200th or numerous other potential spots.

      8. 145th is not ideal, but it’s one of the few places you can cross I-5 without a major interchange.

        Huh? 145th is a major interchange, like 175th and 200th. In contrast, 130th, 155th and 185th are not.

        You could send buses all the way across on 145th, but they would encounter plenty of traffic, just like buses on 175th and 200th. It is better to use the other streets.

  4. the headline reads “mobility board”; the text reads “sounding board”; the Metro process was rebranded after U Link. Martin served on the 2009 Initial segment sounding board.

  5. I hesitate to respond to Thompson.

    Other possibilities are that the process is still fluid and open, that it is designed to solicit input; that cities and the agencies do not have pre-set agreements; they may even disagree with one another and within each other. It is possible that the planners were cautious and irrational in retaining routes 64, 302, 303, 320, and 322 in North Link and Route 630 in East Link. I wonder why the Mercer Island local network is not being improved. If the network is frequent and waits short, riders will willingly transfer. Link may open up many more markets to convenient transit trips. Link could become a pneumatic tube with good reliability and short waits. The Eastside bus network could focus on intra East trips and connections. Hours used to duplicate Link or ST bus routes on I-405 cannot also be used for the needed local service. When demand for transit revives, post pandemic, we can expect all the East P&R to fill again if the revised network provides good connections with Link.

    1. Metro decided last summer to restore almost all service in October thinking offices would reopen then, but then delta and omicron hit after the drivers were hired and assigned. Metro said if expected ridership doesn’t come back by 2022 or 2023 it would have to make cuts. The 64, 302, 303, 320, and 322 fall into that category. I don’t know if Metro is already rethinking those routes, but it wouldn’t hurt to mention them in the feedback. Somebody pushed for them in Northgate Link, but how much of that pressure remains? It could be that they’re waiting for Lynnwood Link, the way the 74 and 76 waited for Northgate Link.

      1. Metro never did bring back nearly enough drivers. That’s why the ESN lasted so long and so many trips are cancelled. At this point it’s not just hiring but training that has them behind the eight ball. That and wages are going up faster in the private sector where you can start full time. It’s not as bad as WSF but it’s the same dynamic.

        I got a flyer from Lk WA saying starting wage is over $30/hr for school bus drivers. Most drivers that want “full time” get it. And you know you’re only going to be driving out of one base not ping ponged from one side of the county to the other every shakeup.

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