I’ve come up with a few suggestions based on the latest proposal for Metro’s network following Lynnwood Link (P3). My goal was to improve the proposal while retaining as much of it as possible. As has been the case in the past, I’ve made a map to make it easier to understand the suggestions:
As with the previous maps, you can make it full page (in its own window) by selecting the little rectangle in the corner. Selecting individual routes highlights them, making them easier to see (with a short explanation as necessary). There are different “layers”, visible on the legend (to the left). For example, you can hide or display the routes that haven’t changed. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if there is any confusion.
I would not expect every suggestion to be implemented. I’ve listed each one in the order of importance, starting with the most important first:
65 and 77
The 65 is back to what was suggested in P2. The 125th/130th corridor is one of the most important in the area. Not only is it the fastest way for someone to get from Lake City to Link, but also the fastest way to get to Aurora and Greenwood Avenue. There are several reasons why making this corridor part of the 65 is better than the proposed 77:
- Avoids the awkward turn in Lake City mentioned previously.
- More bus stops in Lake City. The stops on the 65 manage to be within walking distance of almost all of the apartments in Lake City. In contrast, the proposed 77 only covers a subset of the area, before heading south on Lake City Way, leaving a significant gap in coverage. For example, this versus this. The 65 would provide a much shorter walk for a lot of people looking for the fastest way to Link (or Bitter Lake, Ingraham High School, Aurora, Greenwood, etc.).
- More one-seat connections. Both the P2 version of the 65 and the P3 version of the 77 serve Bitter Lake and Ingraham High. Connecting those areas to Nathan Hale High School, Wedgwood, Children’s Hospital, the U-Village and the east part of the UW adds a lot of value. In contrast, south of Lake City, the main destinations on the 77 are Roosevelt and the UW — areas served by Link. I don’t see too many people sitting through the hairpin set of turns to get from Roosevelt to Bitter Lake — they will simply take Link and transfer. The P3 version of the 77 appears to be two buses awkwardly glued together, whereas the P2 version of the 65 works for a lot more trips.
- Good match of frequency. The proposed 65 is not as frequent as the 72, but is still a lot more frequent than the 77 . While I feel that Lake City Way should have good frequency between Northgate Way and Roosevelt, it isn’t as important as the critical 125th/130th corridor. The frequency on the P2 version of the 65 is much better than the P3 version of the 77.
With the 65 being sent to Bitter Lake, the 77 can cover the area between Lake City and the station (30th, 25th, etc.). Northbound, the bus would turn left on 127th, then right on 30th. If 127th turns doesn’t work, then 130th might. Either way, it wouldn’t make a detour, like the proposed 77; there would be fewer turns, with the bus always headed the same basic direction. Going the other way, it is even faster, as it simply stays on 30th until it merges with Lake City Way.
348 Replacing 67
Most of the suggestions here are revenue neutral (or close to it). In this case though, the changes would save service hours. That is why I think it is so important. Most of the routes in the P3 proposal have very poor frequency. This change allows the buses to run more often, with no additional funding. This is critical if we are going to have a good transit system.
This comes with trade-offs, but rather minor ones. Some riders along the 15th NE corridor lose their one-seat ride to Northgate, but they gain a one-seat ride to Roosevelt and the U-District. The route complements buses like the 61 and 75 (which go to Northgate). It is a bit faster to get to Northgate Station instead of Roosevelt Station, but a large portion of the riders heading to Link will take crossing buses to 130th or 145th station anyway (or the 61 to Northgate). For those in between the major cross-streets, this still provides a fairly fast connection to Link (via Roosevelt) while providing a new one-seat connection for everyone along the corridor. The only significant loss is for people along 5th Avenue NE (between Northgate Way and 103rd). They lose their one-seat wrap-around ride to Maple Leaf, Roosevelt and the U-District. The alternative for those riders is to take a different bus and transfer or walk about five minutes and catch the same bus.
This change could be justified without the time savings. With the time savings, I believe it is critical.
72 and 333
This is a relatively minor change that could have very positive benefits. As of right now, Lake City is directly connected to Shoreline Community College (SCC) via the 330. While the bus does not run often, it performs quite well — in the top 25% of routes in rides per platform hour and passenger miles per platform hour, which is striking given its low frequency. This restores that one-seat connection, while providing other benefits.
The current 330 pathway is a faster connection between SCC and Link, while also getting lots of riders along the way. It is also the fastest way to get from Aurora to SCC. Someone from either end of Aurora (transferring via the RapidRide E) could get to the college much faster. Combining this section with the 72 is a better balance of frequencies. The 72 runs often (for good reason). In contrast, the 333 is not slated to run as often, and this looks to be the strongest section. By having the 72 operate this vital section, headways should be better (now, and in the future).
Under the current proposal, riders from the east can stay on the bus as it goes through SCC. My guess is very few would do that though. It simply takes too long for the bus to weave its way so far west, only to have it turn around and weave its way east. Shoreline Community College is a much better terminus.
345 and 365
Extending the 345 to SCC gives it a stronger anchor. The college is the second most popular stop for that line (second only to Northgate Transit Center). About 40% of the people who board at Four Freedoms head west (to get to SCC) not east (to get to the hospital and Northgate). This restores that connection.
With the 365, service is restored to most of Meridian. The section on 5th is basically an add-on (I don’t expect many riders to “round the horn” and take a bus from Meridian to 5th). Overall, the changes to the 345 and 365 would provide better coverage (and probably significantly more ridership) at little additional cost.
I’ve largely ignored the subject of through-routing in the U-District. This is a tricky subject, with a lot of trade-offs. I don’t have access to the information (such as reliability data) that would allow me to make a more informed decision. In terms of frequency and total travel time, the 77-75 or 45-72 seem like possibilities. I don’t think the 348 could be through-routed with another bus, simply because it is long. Speaking of which, I also accept that there will be service on Roosevelt Way through the U-District, even though I could make a strong argument for consolidating service on The Ave (University Way). I don’t feel as strongly about that issue as I do the suggestions made on the map.
Deadline for comments is August 27. Please let Metro know what you think.