RapidRide G will have a major impact on transit in the area, as the city implements what is arguably the first real BRT system in the state. No matter what you call it, having a bus that is both fast and frequent through the heart of the city will be a major change. It should also change the existing transit network. This is my proposal for doing that.
About the Map
As with previous maps, you can see a full size map by clicking in the corner. Once in its own window, you can select the route number on the sidebar, or the line itself to highlight the route. Care was taken to build the most realistic proposal I can muster (e. g. using existing layover locations) while trying to create an effective and efficient network. I tried to strike a balance between the existing network, and an “everywhere to everywhere” approach.
4 — The eastern tail of the 4 is eliminated, largely because of East Link (which should occur at roughly the same time). The 4 provides direct service to downtown for riders who would otherwise have a two-seat ride. It serves other purposes (such as a one-seat ride for some trips to First or Cherry Hill) but runs infrequently. It can’t justify better service, even with one-seat riders from the Judkins Park neighborhood; it will have a tough time justifying service as those riders switch to Link. It is better to just end it, and put money into more productive routes.
11 — The 11 is replaced by the 8. Riders heading downtown from Madison Park can easily transfer to the G, Link, 10 or 12.
43 — Metro tried to get rid of the 43 back when the Capitol Hill station was added. Unfortunately, that lead to an outcry from people who were looking at an awkward transfer to go downtown (since the 11 was never very frequent). With this change, however, riders will be able to catch the 48 and then take a fast bus running every six minutes.
60 — Becomes part of the 49 (see below).
2 — The 2 now serves the Pike/Pine corridor. Inbound (westbound) the bus largely takes over for the 11 (using existing stops and wire). Outbound, the bus stays on Pike longer, to avoid doglegging up to Pine, then doglegging again to cross Madison.
8 — The 8 becomes an east-west route, taking over the eastern tail of the 11.
12 — I struggled the most with the 12, and will actually suggest several alternatives in a future post. This is the default simply because it is most like the existing route. I would pair frequency with the 2 (e. g. 15 minutes on each) and synchronize the buses, to provide very good combined frequency on Pike/Pine west of Madison.
14 — The 14 is modified slightly towards its eastern tail, in conjunction with the 27. As a result, a little bit of service is added and a little bit is lost, while the main benefit is no more “out and back” travel on the 14.
27 — See 14 above.
37 — The 37 is a new coverage route to backfill service currently provided by the 8. The decision to offer service here is a close one (since riders can walk to other routes) but I think it is a good idea. By running opposite the 27, you can double up frequency along much of Yesler (an area that has been historically underserved). This provides some natural connections in the Central Area. For example it links Garfield High School with many of its students, as well as community services along Yesler.
47 — The 47 routing is the same, but I put it in this category because I want to increase its frequency (to around every 15 minutes midday). Right now it suffers from competition with the 49 (which runs a lot more often). With the 49 no longer going downtown, I expect good ridership on this route (as long as it has a decent headway).
49 — The 49 is sent to Beacon Hill instead of downtown. It takes a straight path, unlike the 60 it replaces. It would be paired with the streetcar to provide good frequency along Broadway (e. g. both could run every 12 minutes, providing 6 minute headways there). This in turn would eliminate the need for expensive express buses to First Hill (further saving service money). Combining the 60 with the 49 may result in a route that is too long. If so, the route would be split at Beacon Hill Station (with the 60 ending there, along with the 107).
106 — Provides long overdue service on Boren, connecting various neighborhoods.
I take a somewhat optimistic view on frequency, starting with the assumption that we can return to pre-pandemic levels of service (essentially what is the “before” part of the table listed on this post). I’ve done the math, and believe that even with Metro running the G often and the new additions, we can have good frequency for this area. Most routes would run 10 to 15 minutes during the day, with only the 14, 27 and 37 running every half hour. As mentioned, the 27 and 37 would combine frequency along much of Yesler, leaving only the eastern (lower density) extremities of the region with 30 minute headways. If funding can increase, then ridership should scale along with it, without any major changes.
If funding decreases, we might have to look at cutting back some routes. I would likely eliminate the 12, as painful as that would be (and productive as that route is). The section closer to downtown overlaps existing routes, while the tail on 19th is not that far from other routes. I believe this would do the least damage to the overall network (while gaining significant savings) even though it would definitely hurt. Hopefully it won’t come to that.