As we covered a while back, Metro is gathering input on bus routes following the implementation of Lynnwood Link. They have initially proposed a sizable service gap along Lake City Way, as well as limited connectivity in the area. This should be fixed.
Current Service and Future Plans
There are three buses that run on Lake City Way south of Northgate Way: The 322, 372 and 522. The replacement for the 522, the S3, will no longer go on Lake City Way. Metro is planning on eliminating the peak-only 322. The 372 (or its replacement, the 72) does not go south of Ravenna Avenue. This would leave a considerable stretch of Lake City Way with no bus service at all.
Ridership and Coverage
The 522 currently serves a bus stop at 20th and 85th, along Lake City Way. Before the pandemic, more 522 riders used that stop than any outside Seattle. Close to 400 people used the bus stop every evening on that bus alone. This was for an infrequent 522 that did not connect to Link. Prior to Northgate Link, the stop was served by other express buses (like the 312 and 309) which had another 150 riders. This was happening before the current boom in development around the bus stop.
But it isn’t just the ridership from that one stop. Without service along that corridor, the coverage gap from eliminating the 73 grows larger. It is easy to argue that riders of the old 73 should walk to Lake City Way or Roosevelt to catch a bus, but if there isn’t service on Lake City Way, a lot of riders would have a very long walk to the nearest bus stop. The 372 does not serve 95th (as it has to move over into the left lane to get on Ravenna Avenue) and there is no crossing Lake City between 20th (85th) and 95th. This makes the trip to the nearest bus stop much longer than it appears. To get from these apartments on Lake City Way to the nearest 372 bus stop is quite the trek, no matter which way you go.
There is also the fact that the 522 and 372 go to different locations. The 522 connects to Roosevelt, a growing and increasingly important neighborhood. Directly connecting the Lake City and Roosevelt neighborhoods (as well as the places along the way) is a worthy endeavor, and will increase ridership along that corridor. It is also a much faster way to get to Link. According to Google, it takes about 20 minutes to get from that neighborhood to Link via the 372 while it takes only 5 minutes via the 522. This time savings applies to anyone along Lake City Way south of Northgate Way.
There are a number of different ways to cover this area, but I assume it will require a new route. For sake of argument, I will call this new route the 76.
Option 1: Lake City to Roosevelt Station
The cheapest option for the 76 is to go from Lake City to Roosevelt Station. It is short and fast enough that a bus could make a live loop using 65th, as shown above. While short, it is likely this would be one of the most useful, cost-effective buses in the area.
Option 2: 145th to Green Lake Park and Ride
The second option is to basically do the reverse. Instead of starting in Lake City, it would start at the Green Lake Park and Ride. It could then do a live loop in Lake City, using 30th, 145th and Lake City Way. This would connect to Stride S3 (522) as well as more of Lake City. With bus service this far north, we could truncate the 72 at the Fred Meyer location, or double the service (and halve the headway) between 145th and Lake City.
Option 3: Lake City to U-District
The third option is to run from Lake City to the U-District, providing one-seat rides to the second biggest destination in the city. I show the bus laying over at Campus Parkway, but there are other options, such as through-routing with a bus going through campus or going further to the UW Station. A bus serving the U-District could potentially live-loop on either end, although it might be too long of a route.
With any of these options, the bus should be synchronized with the 72, providing very good headways along much of Lake City Way for relatively little cost.
No matter how it is done, the area should have frequent bus service along this corridor. Please let Metro know by commenting on the Metro Restructure for Lynnwood Link by March 10th.