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.
27 Replies to “Bus Restructure after RapidRide G”
The 11 is the most important route to me as a Pike-Pine resident. It goes to downtown, Trader Joe’s, Madison Valley, the Arboretum, and Madison Park — all the hardest places to get to because of the hills. So I’ve been apprehensive about losing it in the restructure. Rerouting the 12 to Pike-Pine would help nicely with that. It would go at least to Trader Joe’s, and with a same-stop transfer to the G to Madison Valley and Park. Taking from Trader Joe’s to Boyleston is not as good an option for me because they Boyleston station is a way’s away. And if I lived in Madison Valley (and I did live near 19th & Madison for a short time), I’d want to go to Pike-Pine, not to Madison downtown. The 2 on Pine-Pine is replacing the 10, 11 and 49 (three routes), so hopefully it will be more frequent than every 15 minutes, but if it’s not, the 12 service would be a welcome supplement.
However, I wouldn’t call the entire 12 productive. Most of the ridership is probably on Madison, not 19th. It gets a lot of peak/midday riders because it’s the route between downtown and First Hill, which the G will take over. 19th has always been the tail that wags the dog.
The 27 extension makes sense to avoid the 14’s backtracking. It also gives a a southern destination/transfer point for the apartments on Lakeside Ave, which currently have little bus service and are a long way from downtown.
The 47 would help me because I’m right on it, and when I lived further north it was my only direct route. When it was suspended on and off during recessions, the biggest opposition was from elderly people who can’t walk up the steep hill to Broadway. At the same time, it’s not a favorable alternative when you miss a route to Broadway, because of the hill. So it kind of languishes there, but it is useful to the apartments in the Summit area. Its northern terminus also peters out in the middle of nowhere. Metro sabotaged its ridership by scheduling it a few minutes after the 43, and it was especially bad when it was combined with the 14 and thus was always 5-15 minutes late. That meant if you declined the 43 to wait for the 14, sometimes another 43 would pass before the 14.
Metro’s “classic” long-range plan (offline since 2020, but the closest we have to Metro planners’ ideals) would extend the 47 to 25-land (some parts of Lakeview Blvd, Fuhrman Ave, and/or Boyer Ave). That would be a long segment without trolley wire, in a residential-only area unlikely to get trolley wire, so it would lead to dieslizing/batteryizing the entire route unfortunately.
We should also talk about 12th Ave. That area has been clamoring for north-south bus service for years, and has grown significantly with apartments and restaurants around Seattle University. Metro’s plan was to reroute the 60 to 12th between Jackson and John. Moving it to Broadway would prevent that, and the 60 would overlap the streetcar on Broadway. That may be the best idea because there’s so much density around Broadway, but it does leave a steep hill if you’re closer to 12th.
Great comments, as always. I think I’ll take these in sections, to spread out the responses.
The 2 on Pike-Pine is replacing the 10, 11 and 49 (three routes), so hopefully it will be more frequent than every 15 minutes
I agree, but I want to be a bit more specific. For the Pike/Pine corridor (not the neighborhood) it varies. Right now, west of Bellevue Ave., we currently have the 10, 11 and 49. With this plan, we would have the 2, 10, 12 and 47. This is another reason why I want to bump frequency on the 47. I like having a bunch of buses on that part of Pike-Pine. With this version of the 12 it doesn’t matter much, but with other versions (where the 12 doesn’t go on Pike/Pine) it does.
Likewise, a big part of this version of the 12 is to form a split with the 2. The buses would be synchronized, each running at least every 15 minutes. That means that on the combined sections (much of Pike/Pine) you would have buses running every 7.5 minutes (if not better). Between Broadway and 15th, frequency along Pike/Pine would actually increase substantially. It is kind of like a return of the days before UW Link, when the 10 and 11 combined on that part of Pine (https://seattletransitmap.com/version/1512d1/SeattleTransitMap_v1512d1_web.pdf). That is a big theme with my restructure. There are a lot of areas (e. g. 19th for the 12) where it might be hard to justify a complete route with decent service (15 minutes) if viewed by itself. But as part of a split, it is quite reasonable. If you look at the map, you can see that it actually had better frequency along that corridor than what I’m proposing. This is an area that has become even more densely populated; frequency shouldn’t be going down.
19th has always been the tail that wags the dog.
Agreed. This goes back to my other comment. This version of the 12 is as much about bumping up frequency on much of the 2 as it is serving 19th.
The 47 would help me because I’m right on it, and when I lived further north it was my only direct route.
The 47 runs through a very densely populated part of Seattle. Ridership suffered for a few reasons:
1) It is short.
2) It had competition from Link.
3) It had competition from the 49.
4) Frequency was cut well below those alternatives.
I think the biggest blows were the last two. Metro created a negative ridership cycle when they reduced frequency. Some of those riders stopped using transit, but I don’t think that many. With really high density you have higher transit ridership, even if transit sucks (San Fransisco is a great example of that). It is as much a lifestyle thing as it is a transit quality thing (which is why the relationship between density and transit ridership is exponential, not straight). Likewise, there is no question that Link attracted some of the riders. But there are plenty of people for which Link isn’t worth the hassle. The Capitol Hill Station is very deep, and the Westlake Station (the most likely one-to-one replacement) isn’t that shallow either. Unless you are headed to the south end of downtown (or someplace south) you are much better off taking the 49. This goes for any transfer to the north, or just a north-downtown neighborhood (e. g. Belltown). The 49 is a much better option than Link for a lot of people headed downtown who are within comfortable walking distance of both (let alone those that would need to schlep).
This is therefore a big change. With the 49 no longer going downtown, those riders need an alternative, and the 47 is it. If given even baseline frequency (15 minutes) I think it will respond really well, and be one of the more productive buses in our system.
I would still like it if it went further. Going a lot further seems ambitious, but I could definitely see it going a little further along Lakeview. I think that is a future enhancement though. This is simply a matter of increasing frequency to baseline levels for a very urban route.
The 27 extension makes sense to avoid the 14’s backtracking. It also gives a a southern destination/transfer point for the apartments on Lakeside Ave, which currently have little bus service and are a long way from downtown.
Yeah, it is a trade-off though. Some folks come out ahead, some come out behind. I think overall it is better, especially if you consider the savings from avoiding the backtracking. Normally these types of “little fixes” just involve losing coverage; at least this involves a coverage swap.
We should also talk about 12th Ave.
I believe consolidation is important, which is why I wrote this: https://seattletransitblog.com/2022/04/30/weekend-open-thread-our-rail-system-expansion/#comment-893732. A bus on 12th might be one of those exceptions (because there is a hill) but at this point, increasing frequency on Broadway is much more important. Broadway should have much better headways. It is so bad that Metro feels that it needs to run express buses there, rather than expect people to transfer. That wouldn’t happen if we had good frequency on Broadway (e. g. Belltown doesn’t get this kind of service, because Belltown has frequent bus service connecting it to Link). We could achieve that by running the streetcar more often, but that would cost a lot more money (for new streetcars) and much of the streetcar path is clearly flawed. The best part is the section on Broadway, and this would double up frequency there.
Running a different bus on 12th (or 14th) is definitely worth considering though. It is one of my future options for a modification of the 12 (actually the 10, but in conjunction with the 12). This would basically plug the last hole in the grid for this part of the city (arguably the part of the city most deserving a grid). But better frequency on Broadway is a higher priority.
Part of the issue with RapidRide G and Broadway is that the nearest RRG stops are west of Boylston and east of 12th Ave. There are also no bus or streetcar stops at Broadway either. The closest transfer means connecting Boylston and Madison with Marion and Broadway — over a 300 foot walk.
In contrast, the RRG 12th Ave stop is right at that corner.
“ There are also no bus or streetcar stops at MADISON either. ”
Yeah, it is a three minute walk (https://goo.gl/maps/k61ecrs8vjbGHTYy5). But we don’t know where the bus stops would be on 12th, either. It could be up between Pike and Pine, which mean roughly the same walk (https://goo.gl/maps/niFLTBaNHy4GoedK6).
It is also worth considering why someone would be transferring. It is not a 90 degree transfer. Obtuse angle transfers make a lot more sense than acute angle transfers. For example, taking a bus southbound, then southwest is quite likely (https://goo.gl/maps/9XtxYkbe2jtq9JYP9). In contrast, southbound followed by going northwest is not (https://goo.gl/maps/tMmLepEAas4Gdc3t8). So we are really mainly concerned with that first case. If the bus doglegs east, then it really doesn’t help those riders. They have a shorter walk (maybe) but the bus takes a while to get over to 12th (the opposite direction of where they want to go). If I’m trying to get from north Capitol Hill to 5th and Madison, I would rather the bus go straight on Broadway, rather than dogleg over to 12th. I would also want good frequency on both legs, and that is only possible if the bus stays on Broadway (since the streetcar isn’t going to move). For that transfer, the best option is to send the bus on Broadway.
One way to mitigate the problem is to add a streetcar/bus stop closer to Broadway. It still wouldn’t be ideal, but that would shrink the distance (and the street crossings) considerably (https://goo.gl/maps/ouzPw5fDW6VszKke8). That would likely be the cheapest and easiest option.
Another thing to mention about bus service on 12th. It has a lot of bike lanes, so adding bus stops isn’t as trivial as on many streets. It would be nice if we could make 12th the bike street, and Broadway the transit street, but that would be difficult given the height differences (bikers will want to bike on both). It might also require shifting the rail (if you wanted to add transit lanes) and that would be expensive. I would still like to do whatever can be done to make transit on Broadway faster. Consolidation helps in that regard as well. It is easier to make one street faster than two.
A few comments:
1. The 2016 U-Link restructure in this part of Seattle was “conservative” as lots of residents were freaked out about a possible bus route change. I think the public is less eager to have a one-seat bus ride to Downtown now. Once East Link offers 4-5 minute service to Capitol Hill Station (2024 hopefully) it will be even less important.
2. Part of Metro’s low productivity route performance is a result that they often have no activity destinations directly on them. It’s important to offer a good mix of residential and non-residential development to make a route be more than feeder routes.
As to your proposals, they are not horrible — but they could be tweaked better to connect to local non-residential destinations. Generally, I think bus route planning should be done looking at a wide range of needs to serve target communities and elevation change hassles that may not be obvious to someone who sketches routes. We may not all easily see that blind riders do much better if direct their key destinations can be reached without transferring, for example. With that caveat, here are some tweaks to consider:
1. Pairing north MLK 8 with Yesler (your Route 37) is just not going to attract many riders. It’s creating a route worse than Route 4 since there are no great activity centers on it (at least Route 4 has Harborview and Cherry Hill). Plus, I’m not so sure that Metro would want to walk away from serving MLK south of Jackson — particularly if Route 4 past Cherry Hill is also eliminated. One adjustment to your proposal like extending this route further south to Massachusetts or College before jogging over to 23rd and jogging back to continue on Yesler would turn the route into a neighborhood circulator that would put several grocery stores and the Judkins Park entrance on the route. There are plenty of radial routes headed Downtown already including RRG and 2 Line Link soon, but reaching local destinations on one bus is lacking.
2. It’s not mentioned in your proposal, but if Route 48 gets electrified, I would consider rebranding it (Route 6?) and have it run overlapping with Route 7 between 23rd and Henderson, where it could split and turn west to terminate at Rainier Beach Link (if wire can be added). That would restore the CD to SE Seattle direct bus route that used to be available before Metro put Route 106 on MLK several years ago.
I do like moving the Route 14 tail to Route 27. Metro has proposed this a few times but it hasn’t happened. It may be difficult to have room to layover Route 14 at Mt Baker so maybe that tail end can be extended a bit to reach other nearby destinations (I think Metro considered running up to Beacon Hill).
I agree with Mike that 12th Ave or maybe 14th Ave north-south service is needed. I would add that I feel that a Cherry Hill to Judkins Park direct service is needed (and using 14th at least between Jefferson and Cherry would get close to doing that). Providing those things is certainly like playing a game of musical chairs with the Route structure — so I’ll just put that challenge out there to think more about.
1. The 2016 U-Link restructure was most certainly not conservative. There were plenty of people that didn’t think Metro would dare get rid of the express buses from the U-District (not until we added the U-District Station). For this area there were fewer changes, but only because there was little to work with. There was (and is) only one Link station between downtown and the UW. It is a great station from a walk-up standpoint, but it isn’t great from a bus integration standpoint. Again, this is because it is only one station. It is also very deep, and relatively close to downtown.
But things have changed. The addition of the U-Link station is huge. I’m sure there are riders who have switched from the 49 to Link for their trips from the U-District to Capitol Hill. RapidRide G changes things as well. If you are headed to Madison downtown (and a lot of people are) this is about as good a transfer as you can get. It is still a transfer, and there will still be plenty of people that don’t like it. But lots of other riders will appreciate the one seat ride to First Hill or easier transfers to other places. The main benefit is just a better network; some existing riders might not be happy with the changes, but I am confident that overall, riders will be better off.
Generally, I think bus route planning should be done looking at a wide range of needs to serve target communities and elevation change hassles that may not be obvious to someone who sketches routes.
I agree. I think it is fair to say that I know the area fairly well. I can’t say that about the East Side, for example. Oh sure, I used to work in Factoria, and downtown Bellevue. I know friends that lived in Totem Lake, downtown Kirkland and Juanita. I’ve walked around all of those areas, but if you add up all of that, you are talking only a few hundred miles of walking (total) of a very broad area, not the thousands of hours and miles that I’ve spent in the C. D. and Rainier Valley.
Pairing north MLK 8 with Yesler (your Route 37) is just not going to attract many riders. It’s creating a route worse than Route 4 since there are no great activity centers on it (at least Route 4 has Harborview and Cherry Hill).
I disagree. You’ve got downtown, the connection to Link, as well Yesler Terrace, and all of those places along Yesler and MLK. Not just the obvious ones (e. g. Langston Hughes Center) but things like medical clinics, cultural centers, grocery stores and the library, which is a big enough destination that Metro has created a dogleg to serve it for years (on the 8). This essentially cuts through the cultural heart of the Central Area (including places named “Central Area”, like CAYA, or the Central Area Food Bank). This isn’t a suburb. This is more than just a residential area. This is the heart of the city, with a wide range of uses along both corridors — linking them together is a bonus.
The comparison to the tail of the 4 doesn’t make sense. The tail of the 4 has very little unique coverage, and with the proposed East Link restructure it would have none. That is why I want to get rid of it. If it was the only bus serving 23rd (its new route) I would definitely keep it.
In contrast, this provides unique coverage (on MLK). That is a huge difference. But at the same time, it doubles the frequency on Yesler, and connects the riders on MLK with Yesler. Even if the MLK tail isn’t that popular, you at least have doubled the frequency on the most important part of Yesler, while providing some coverage.
Plus, I’m not so sure that Metro would want to walk away from serving MLK south of Jackson
Maybe, but Metro is willing to walk away from MLK south of Jackson, with their latest East Link proposal: https://oohsteastlinkconnect.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/maps_p3/en/seattle/8.pdf, https://oohsteastlinkconnect.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/maps_p3/en/seattle/4.pdf. If things go as planned (by Metro) there will be no service south of Jackson, until it picks up again at Massachusetts.
Lack of service on MLK between Massachusetts and Rainier is a lot smaller issue. The distance you need to walk to a bus shrinks as you get closer to Rainier, which means just at the point in which you are getting too far from Judkins Park Station, you are very close to Rainier, which has the most frequent bus in the area (unlike the east side of Jackson, which has only the 14).
One adjustment to your proposal like extending this route further south to Massachusetts or College before jogging over to 23rd and jogging back to continue on Yesler would turn the route into a neighborhood circulator that would put several grocery stores and the Judkins Park entrance on the route.
I really don’t like routes that detour in that manner. You kill through routing. I could easily see someone on MLK taking this bus to Yesler, given everything that is there (including downtown). The lack of frequency hurts, and riders might take other buses because of that, but I could see standing at MLK and Cherry and taking the first bus that shows up to get downtown (either the 3 or the 37– both run every half hour there). Riding the bus as it goes all the way down to Massachusetts and back would suck. Another drawback is that routes that detour in that manner also cut into frequency (it takes a while to go around and try to cover every place of interest). It is a squiggly route, and we know squiggly routes perform poorly (https://humantransit.org/2013/08/translink-high-and-low-performing-routes.html). The proposed 37 has only one turn — one of the reasons I like it.
Certainly the U-Link restructure was not conservative in total. I said “this part of Seattle”. More specifically, the Madison corridor southward.
Yeah, I understood that. I agree that the changes south of the canal were conservative, and wasn’t arguing otherwise.
I’m just saying that there was a big reason for that. It had nothing to do with fear of change (otherwise, the conservatism would be everywhere). It had everything to do with the fact that there was only one station between the UW and downtown. There was only so much that Metro could do.
From a route restructure standpoint, RapidRide G is a much bigger change. There are just a lot more connection points. For example, you can get rid of the 43. You have a fast and frequent bus connecting riders to downtown. It isn’t as fast as Link, but when you consider the transfer time (far less) and the frequency (better than current Link, almost as fast as future Link) it is a huge change. The Capitol Hill Station offered nothing for that corridor.
It did offer up the possibility of combining the 8 and 11. In this case, though, riders will have more options for getting to downtown. If they made that change right now, riders could transfer to the 10, or take Link. The 10 doesn’t go to the south end of downtown (neither does the 11) so that means either going deep in the hole at CHS, or making another transfer. The addition of the RapidRide makes a huge difference, because it offers another way to get to downtown (especially a different part of downtown).
Even the change to the 49 seems more appropriate after RapidRide G. Many of the transfers and alternatives involve Link, to be sure. But right now a bus-only transfer would be awkward. To Madison it would require waiting for the 12, which is a 15-minute bus (before the pandemic). You could wait for the 2, but it the same story (they are on different streets). With this change, the G runs every six minutes, and the 2/12 combine for 7.5 minute frequency if you are headed to Pike/Pine (it is even better outbound). Overall, some may prefer Link, but if you are headed to say, 5th and Madison, many will prefer staying on the surface. It certainly gives people more options.
If Route 48 gets electrified, I would consider rebranding it (Route 6?) and have it run overlapping with Route 7 between 23rd and Henderson, where it could split and turn west to terminate at Rainier Beach Link (if wire can be added). That would restore the CD to SE Seattle direct bus route that used to be available before Metro put Route 106 on MLK several years ago.
That is similar to the split that Metro proposed a while back, right? They had the 7 ending at MBS, while the 48 went down Rainier Valley to Rainier Beach Station (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/). In your case, you would simply overlap. I think there would be a couple things to consider:
1) Would the 48 be too long? You would want to do a lot of work on the corridor (the point of RapidRide+) to ensure that the bus runs consistently. This means off-board payment, as well as plenty of red paint. Otherwise you run the risk of bus bunching on Rainier (which defeats a lot of the advantages of doubling up service).
2) It gets complicated in terms of doubling up buses on Rainier.
3) Do we really need that kind of frequency on Rainier Valley.
I think it could be pulled off though, but only if we get more money for transit. Assume 10 minute frequency on both the 48 and 7. These are doubled up from 23rd to Henderson. Run the 106 every 10 minutes as well, so that you are doubled up from 23rd to Jackson. At Jackson you lose the 106, but gain the 14 and the streetcar. You add in the 36 at 12th.
I could see that working, but only if you have really good frequency in the area. Otherwise, it gets messy. For example, rather than aiming for a combined 5 minute frequency, aim for 6. But now this means running the 48 every 12 minutes, when it used to run every 10 (and should maybe run even more often). Likewise, if you only had 15 minute frequency on the 106 (which is quite reasonable) then the section of Rainier between 23rd and Jackson has weak frequency. You’ve basically got three buses that should have the same frequency before you get to Jackson (after that, synchronizing doesn’t matter as you have a lot of combined buses and the streetcar).
One thing it does do is avoid the political fight over the 7. You can send one bus to the Rainier Beach Station, and the other to where the 7 ends now. Both would have to have off-board payment. Speaking of which, if you don’t have off-board payment for the 106, it could delay the other buses (this goes for Jackson as well). This is another argument for regional off-board payment, if not making it system wide.
Anyway, that could work out really well, if you can match up the various buses. I think it would require spending a significant amount of money though. Hopefully we get to that point.
“The 2016 U-Link restructure in this part of Seattle was “conservative” as lots of residents were freaked out about a possible bus route change. I think the public is less eager to have a one-seat bus ride to Downtown now.”
“The 2016 U-Link restructure was most certainly not conservative.”
It was in between. Metro’s initial proposals were bolder than many had expected. Eliminating the 43’s all-day service was a major change. The primary opposition to restructuring was the same as in previous restructures and cuts in 2012 and 2014: don’t split the 2, and don’t modify the 12. If you don’t modify the 12, that has cascading effects on the 11 and 8 and vice-versa. Seattle wanted an all-Madison 11; Metro wanted a Broadway-Madison 49. There was also the constraint of no U-District Station for the first five years. That made it impractical to turn the 49 into a north-south route. So in the end the 2, 11, 12, and 48 were left as-is until the RapidRide G restructure.
The 10 reroute was a late change because some people were uncomfortable from removing frequent downtown service from Olive-John is such a dense, low-car area. That was the opposite of conservative. It was a gamble, and in some ways it turned out badly, because many riders switched to the 11, and the 11 got overcrowded peak hours, and eastern Pine got insufficient service Sundays and evenings. But the 10 reroute remains popular in long-term plans because it serves a unique coverage area, and the Pine gap can be filled in other ways.
“I think the public is less eager to have a one-seat bus ride to Downtown now.”
It depends on how long each segment is. It makes sense to transfer in the U-District to downtown because that segment is three miles and a 20-30 minute bus ride. It doesn’t make as much sense to transfer at Broadway when downtown is just a mile away and you’ll be waiting as long as the ride is. Capitol Hill Station is in an awkward location for several bus routes like the 11 and G.
After posting this, I discussed some issues about this proposal with a friend, and feel like they should be mentioned here.
First, I want to emphasize that this plan does involve moving some overhead wire (for the trolleys). Some of that (like on Pine, east of Bellevue Avenue) could be added later. Most of it is rather minor. I wouldn’t expect to add miles of new wire.
Which is why my statement about the 60 is simply incorrect. It can’t be merged with the 49 (the 60 is not a trolley bus). I still intend to replace the northern part of the 60 with the 49, however (running a straighter path). That leaves a couple choices:
1) Send the 49 to Beacon Hill Station (BHS) and end it there. Truncate the 60 there as well. (This was listed as a possibility.)
2) Have the 49 take over the southern part of the 36 (from BHS to Othello Station). Send the 60 downtown. (You could also truncate the 60 at BHS, but I’m not recommending that).
I would lean towards the latter. The 36 pairs nicely with the new 49 (e. g. it is closer to the V. A.). The 36 is more frequent than the 60, and that should be the goal for the 49. In contrast, I can live with the 60 being less frequent; I see no reason to increase the frequency, just because it now goes downtown.
I should also mention that I don’t focus on through-routing of buses downtown. There are a lot of possibilities for mixing and matching (as well as truncating and splitting). I’m confident that a good solution can be found for the ideas listed here.
When the U-Link restructure in 2016 was being planned, I remember there was a lot of controversy about the 11, so it ended up remaining the same. I have come up with a more conservative restructure proposal in the area, but for some reason I’m not able to post it as a separate article on Page 2, so I’ll post it here instead:
Unchanged routes (routing): 3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 36, 47, 48, 49, 106
Deleted routes: 1, 2N, 4, 12, 43
– Route 2 will be moved to Pine/Pike west of 14th Ave. It will terminate in Downtown like the other Pine/Pike routes and no longer run to Queen Anne.
– Route 13 will be through-routed with Route 14, with both routes operating at 15-minute frequency 7 days a week.
– Route 1 will be discontinued. South of Dravus, Route 32 will run via Dravus, 11th Ave W, Barrett, and 9th Ave W, then follow the old #1 route to Seattle Center. Route 31 will run via Dravus instead of Emerson.
– North of CHS, Route 60 will run via John, 15th, Thomas, and 19th to 19th/Galer. This is to replace the #12 tail on 19th.
– Between Yesler and Jackson, Route 8 will run straight on MLK rather than deviating to 23rd. Instead, it will deviate to 23rd between Judkins and Massachusetts to serve the Judkins Park station.
– Route 3 will operate at the frequency of the current combined 3/4.
– Route 11 will operate at 15-minute frequency 7 days a week. The 2 and 11 will be coordinated to provide combined 7.5-minute frequency along Pine/Pike.
Please let me know your thoughts on this proposal.
I like keeping the 11, because it’s the most useful east-west route as I described in the first comment.
Extending the 60 to 19th Ave E is an interesting innovation.
You said the 49 would remain unchanged. Did you mean that? That would be convenient for me, but I’m not sure it it’s justified over a north-south route (U-District to Beacon or Rainier). You also didn’t mention the 10, so it would remain on its current routing? There would then be four routes on Pike/Pine to Broadway (2, 11, 49), and two more to Bellevue (10, 47). Metro might consider that overservice, or an excuse not to make the 2 or 11 15-minute frequent. I’d rather have a frequent 11 or 2 more than a frequent 49. But since 2016, Metro has doubled down on the 49 and made it the most frequent route on Capitol Hill and the night-owl route. That was appropriate before U-District Station opened but maybe not now. Metro is apparently planning to replace the 49 with a 60 extension to the U-District. If it instead keeps the 49, it might not be willing to reallocate its frequency to the 11 or 2.
Metro has wanted to merge the 11 and the 8 for some time now. Like a lot of similar changes, this saves a lot of money over having both routes. It is worth noting that service on RapidRide G is not paid for, and would come at the expense of other routes. Thus we don’t have a lot of extra service hours to work with. Before the pandemic, the 11 only had 15 minute service in the middle of the day, and 30 minutes weekends and nights. In contrast, the 8 was a lot more frequent; a shorter, more efficient version of it could easily run every 10 minutes. That is the main reason I went with what Metro wanted, replacing the 11 with the 8.
Your 2 sounds exactly like mine (east of downtown).
As I wrote, I don’t get into the mixing and matching involved with the Queen Anne routes. In my opinion it should come later, as we have a better idea of what sort of frequency we have to work with (in both areas). Restructures for Queen Anne itself aren’t the focus of this essay (although I like some of your ideas).
Sending the 60 up to 19th is fine, but again, I worry about frequency. On at least part of Broadway, we have the streetcar, the 49 and the 60. None of these were really frequent, even before the cutbacks. As a result, it is a mess. If you get off the train at CHS, and want to go to First Hill, you might get lucky, or you might just end up walking. It is even worse coming back. The 49 veers off, and so does the 60, for much of the route. This means you have to choose an (infrequent) route, and stick with it. This, for one of the busiest parts of the city (which is also connected to a Link Station). It is worth noting that Metro runs express buses to First Hill, believing that the frequency on Broadway is just not good enough. In contrast, that doesn’t happen north of Westlake (even though Belltown is a major destination).
Broadway is begging for consolidation, and better frequency. If the streetcar ran every five minutes, then it would do the job, and the 60 could stick with its current (weak) frequency. But running the streetcar that often would be expensive (requiring the purchase of new train cars) and since the streetcar does the crazy looping trip to Jackson, expensive from a service standpoint as well. There are other ways to generate good frequency on that corridor, but the easiest is to just have a couple routes (a streetcar and the bus) combine for good frequency (5-6 minutes all day). This could save money as well. Likewise, there is significant savings from sending the 49 south on Broadway, instead of to downtown. The new frequencies seem appropriate as well. The streetcar can run every 10 minutes. The 49 uses to run every 12 minutes. So combining them to provide 5 to 6 minute frequency on Broadway isn’t much of a change, and can easily be justified (on the entire route). Running the tail of the 12 that often doesn’t. I’m not sure any service on 19th is really needed — it probably isn’t.
If there is a theme to my proposal, it is consolidation to achieve better frequency, and enable a better grid.
Speaking of which, that is one of the big advantages of this restructure. For the following corridors, the frequency would increase, at no extra cost:
Broadway: 12 minutes to 6
Madison (west of 26rd): 15 minutes to 6
Madison (east of 23rd): 15 minutes to 10
Pike/Pine (east of 12th): 15 minutes to 7.5
Yesler: 30 minutes to 15
Adding service on Boren does require some extra money, but not a lot. If we skipped that change (i. e. kept the 106 headed to downtown) then this proposal would actually save money (which means some of these routes could be even more frequent). Thus even without adding service on Boren, we would be looking at a dramatic change in service for the region on several key corridors (not just the part where they are adding BRT).
This does come at a cost, though. Riders in some cases would have to walk an extra block or two. Some trips — especially to downtown — would be indirect. But this is well worth it, when you consider the increase in frequency along these corridors. This is a high density area, with people and destinations everywhere. We should have a transit system that reflects that, instead of one built for the last century.
In the plan I suggested, I was trying to make as few changes as possible. I do realize I forgot to mention the 10, which would be unchanged in my plan. I do agree that we should try to reduce duplication as much as possible, so merging the 8 and 11 might be a good idea. I’d prefer that the 11 be merged with RapidRide G, but it depends on what Madison Park residents want.
I did think about the 49, and I’ve also wanted to move it out of Downtown. What I would do is merge it with the 36 using the current 60 routing between CHS and Beacon Hill, but maybe via Seneca instead of Madison. Most of this route already has trolley wire, so the only segment where new trolley wire is needed is between 9th/Jefferson and Boren/Yesler (about 0.5 miles). Then the 60 could be sent either to Downtown, via 14th to CHS (I’d prefer 14th over 12th because it provides better route spacing), or via Boren to SLU. I also like the idea of the 106 running via Boren, but I question whether the 106 is really needed north of Mt. Baker (or Judkins Park when it opens).
I was trying to make as few changes as possible.
I get that. I feel the same way. I just feel like RapidRide G is a dramatic change, and calls for the same sort of cascading route restructure that a Link expansion does. In this particularly area, maybe more. Link added one station between the UW and downtown, so it really didn’t replace anything. The money for service didn’t come out of Metro — it was completely separate. The station is very close to downtown, and is very deep. This means many riders are better off taking a bus to downtown, rather than transferring to Link.
In contrast, the RapidRide G has about a dozen stops. It replaces much of the 12. It is very close to the 2, so in my opinion it calls for a change to it as well. These changes alter the nature of other routes, like the 11. Right now the 11 provides critical service on Pine, east of Madison. If the 2 is moved, it would do that. The G also directly replaces some of the 11, on Madison (between MLK and 19th). I’m sure there are plenty of riders on that section of Madison who take the 11 because it is the only bus that will get them downtown. In the future the G will do that, and do it much faster. As Mike mentioned, it would be nice to have a one-seat connection between Pine and the eastern part of Madison. But I don’t see how we can do that, while creating a system that has good frequency. The G will suck a lot of frequency from the system — we have to find savings somewhere (or live with infrequent buses in an area that should have the opposite).
To be clear, some of the changes I propose are things that Metro (and I) have wanted for a while. This includes merging the 11 with the 8. But this is the ideal time for that change. If we made the change now, more people would have to transfer to get downtown. Once RapidRide G gets here, it would only be the folks east of MLK. For those who do transfer, the options are very good. They have Link, a same-seat transfer to the 10, and with this change, a transfer to the very frequent G. Because of the cutbacks, the 11 is running every 20 minutes in the middle of the day. Before the pandemic, it ran every 15 minutes. I expect the 8 to run every 10.
I’d prefer that the 11 be merged with RapidRide G, but it depends on what Madison Park residents want.
RapidRide G requires special buses, and we don’t have money for that. There is also a big drop-off in ridership as you go east of 23rd. My guess is Madison Park residents would want a one-seat ride to downtown, but if you try and please everyone, you end up with a bad system. It covers places, and provides one-seat rides, but frequency is terrible (not unlike what we’ve got in a lot of places).
If the 49 followed the 60 path, then you haven’t gained anything. Frequency on First Hill would continue to suck. There is no way we can justify running the 49 every 6 minutes — even 10 would be difficult (and a significant increase). The only way to get good north-south frequency on First Hill is to combine routes. It also makes sense for buses to go straight. Turns take time, delaying riders, and hurting frequency. As much as I don’t like the streetcar, it isn’t going away. We shouldn’t pretend that is gone. We should leverage it, which means running a different route on the same street (Broadway). The 49 is that route.
Like several of the changes, this saves money. It can be thought of in two stages, each of which save money. First, straighten out the 60. Then combine the 49 and 60, to reduce the overlap. From a service standpoint, that is pretty much it. From a practical standpoint, further (cost neutral) swaps are necessary. The 36 has wire, but the 49 does not. That means the 60 turns on Jackson, and heads downtown (taking over that part of the 36). The part of the 36 south of Beacon Hill Station becomes part of the 49.
In contrast, it would be great to have the 49 take over the 60 path, and then send the 60 somewhere else, but I don’t see how you get the money for that. You would have to reduce frequency somewhere.
As far as the 106 goes, it is all about service on Boren. As much as I emphasize frequency, I believe this is a necessary route, that is long overdue. Thousands of riders a day are forced to go way out of their way because there is no bus there. Increasing frequency would help, but there is no substitute for a sensible grid. Service on Boren should extend south as far as Jackson. From there, the bus can go two directions: up to Beacon Hill, or south to Mount Baker Station (MBS). I chose the latter, since the 49 goes to Beacon Hill. With the bus on Boren going to MBS, I figure it might as well merge with the 106 (saving money).
There are probably some alternative layover spots in the area, but the only one I can think of that is south of Jackson is the 4. Going a bit further to MBS is much better, while connecting with the 106 saves money, as you avoid overlap. You could terminate both routes at MBS (and you might have to) but that costs more, and makes the 106 worse.
“I’d prefer that the 11 be merged with RapidRide G, but it depends on what Madison Park residents want.”
“RapidRide G requires special buses, and we don’t have money for that.”
When the G was being planned they considered whether to terminate it at 23rd (the default), MLK (which had widespread public support), or Madison Park (which had some support). The part east of MLK wouldn’t have gotten street improvements or special stations, the red bus would just continue a mile further. There were debates over whether the extension was better or not. On one hand, it would obviate the need for another route to go to Madison Park and would make the grid straighter. On the other hand, it would cost more money. The RapidRide+ budgets were limited, so they couldn’t fit the maximum alternatives for the G (Madison Park) or J (Northgate), and they didn’t even fully fund the rest of them; it required raising additional money. There was also a philosophical disagreement between SDOT, which wanted an all-Madison route like the G, and Metro, which wanted a Broadway-Madison route like the 49 instead. So the Madison Park alternative didn’t succeed, but it was considered.
I suggested combining the 49 and 36 using the 60 path because I thought the streetcar would already cover service on Broadway, and many people use the 60 to get to the hospitals along its route. But now that you mention it, I agree with your plan more, especially since the streetcar only goes between CHS and ID/Chinatown. I believe the 60 was originally supposed to run straight on Broadway, but riders wanted it to serve the hospitals. Another option could be to combine the 49 and 7 in a way similar to the old 9 local, but I don’t know if that’s any better than the 49/36 combo.
I also like the idea of the 106 running via Boren, and I feel like it should’ve been implemented when the 106 was changed in 2016. That’s why I suggested that if the 106 doesn’t run via Boren, then the 60 should run via Boren. I suppose the 106 on Boren could also replace the 60 on 9th, since Boren is also close to many of the hospitals on 9th.
“I believe the 60 was originally supposed to run straight on Broadway, but riders wanted it to serve the hospitals.”
They wanted it to serve more of First Hill, particularly because the apartments have a large concentration of elderly.
Comments are closed.