RapidRide G is set to open next year as what many consider the first (and only) Bus Rapid Transit system in the state. The buses will run quickly, traveling in the center lanes on Madison for much of the way. Just as importantly, the bus will run every six minutes every day until 7:00 PM, making it the most frequent individual line in the region.

Along with this important addition, Metro is proposing several bus changes in the area. To call these disappointing is to put it mildly. The 10, 11, 12 and 49 would run every 20 minutes at best. The 47 may be eliminated. This is a major degradation in one of the most densely populated, highest transit ridership areas in the state. As an alternative to these plans, I propose the following:

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.

Changed Routes:

  • 2 — Doglegs over to Pike/Pine to better complement the G.
  • 8 — Sent to Madison Park, replacing the 11, and resulting in fewer turns.
  • 10 — Goes south to Pike/Pine, combining with the 2 for better headways along much of the corridor.
  • 14 — A little more efficient coverage in Mount Baker.
  • 27 — Combines with the 14 for more efficient coverage in Mount Baker.
  • 47 — Same routing as before, just operates more frequently.
  • 49 — Sent to Beacon Hill, to take over that part of the 60. Runs opposite the streetcar.
  • 60 — Truncated at Beacon Hill (runs from Westwood Village to Beacon Hill Station).
  • 106 — Sent to Yesler to get better combined headways with the 27.


Every bus would run 15 minutes or better midday. The 47 would run every 12 minutes (like the current 60). Buses like the 8 and 48 would likely run that often as well (if not better). This is based on current service levels and the savings found simply by building a more efficient network. It would be expected that these buses run more often as we pull out of the pandemic and its aftermath.

While these numbers represent a big improvement over the Metro plans, it is when you consider combined headways that things start looking especially good. Broadway along the streetcar path would have 6 minute headways. Yesler, east of 23rd would have 7.5 minute headways. So would Pike/Pine, between 3rd and 15th. All of this can occur at today’s heavily reduced service levels. It is definitely plausible that the 2 and 10 run every 12 minutes in the future, for combined 6 minute headways along their very productive corridors.

Complementary Service

Metro has struggled with the 47 for quite some time. Part of the problem is that it lies fairly close to the 49. Yet there are no routes to the west of the 47, until you get to Fairview (on the other side of the freeway). Thus the spacing between the lines is relatively close, but if you eliminate the 47, you create a large service gap to the west. Compounding the conundrum is the fact that Summit is one of the most densely populated areas of the state, and very close to downtown. A bus should get good ridership there, as long as another bus doesn’t poach its riders.

Sending the 49 to Beacon Hill solves this problem. The 47 and 49 go to different places. Thus riders in the Summit neighborhood walk to the 47 if they want to go downtown. Those headed to the south end of Broadway (or Beacon Hill) use the 49. This pattern continues to the east, as buses alternate between going downtown and going north-south. The results are striking. For most of the people in the area, bus service to downtown is better than ever, while we have more of grid.


None of this comes without some cost. Service is eliminated on 19th. As a result, I could see a small modification in the northern tail of the 10 to cover it, using Aloha. Otherwise, it isn’t that far of a walk to a fairly frequent bus. At worst you catch the 48, which would require a transfer. Since the G runs every six minutes, this is about as painless a transfer as you can have. Losing service on MLK is perhaps a bigger hit, but it isn’t that far of a walk to 23rd for most riders. If funds become available, I could see adding a coverage route for MLK, and maybe even 19th. But at this point, what the area needs more than anything is better frequency on the core routes.

Likewise, it is clear that the grid for this area is nowhere near complete. It begs for a bus on Boren. Similarly, I could see serving the north-south gap between 23rd and Broadway. These are ambitious, future plans that should be considered when we pull out of the mess we are in.

But for now, we should create a set of core routes that run frequently even in the worst of times (like now). What I’ve sketched out does exactly that. The savings are large, and should be put into running these routes more often, even if they aren’t running as often as we would like.

83 Replies to “High Frequency Network Surrounding RapidRide G”

  1. I rather doubt that Metro will seek to remove service on 19th Ave; Link Capitol Hill station has pulled away riders from 15th so I’d think that dropping 15th service would be easier to defend . The Route 2 alignment on Seneca has strong support — plus using Pine (with several recently installed all-way stops) as well as adding the several additional turns would slow down Route 2 substantially and create more reliability problems. MLK north of Union is a steep distance from 23rd so it’s a bigger “hit” than it shows on a map. Route 106 north of Mt Baker evolved because of CID interest in connecting Chinatown with health care at MLK and Walden, so using Yesler would be fought by CID interests who would complain that they were left out of the discussion. Eliminating Route 4 also has localized challenges or it would already have happened. Finally, the L layout of Route 8 gets a surge of Garfield High riders (among others) who want direct service between the CD and Capitol Hill.

    (I do like the proposed replacing the 14 with the 27 for the Mt Baker tail.)

    These are just some of the dilemmas that this proposal has. However, the overarching dilemma is simply that public participation and outreach would need to expand considerably to make such major systemic changes.

    A revisiting of the route structure is probably warranted — but with a significant change a lot of outreach would need to happen. These proposals are mostly dead in the water. Metro has their own modest set of changes that they already proposed that affect a much smaller geographic area — so outside of refining those I don’t see that Metro would suddenly change course and try pursuing something more extensive (like this) for 2024.

    I think that a major restructure would be easier to consider after Metro can see what the impact of RapidRide G, the opening of several thousand new apartments south of the Judkins Park station and the new 23rd Ave entrance to Link 2 Line will have on demand.

    1. “MLK north of Union is a steep distance from 23rd so it’s a bigger “hit” than it shows on a map.”

      That’s what jumped out at me as well. Even the walk up Union from MLK to 23rd is no cakewalk for those with some mobility limitations. I lived in that area for five years when I was a much younger individual back in the early 90s; I think I would feel differently about hiking up the hill to catch the 48 (the 8 didn’t exist back then) if I was my current age back then.

      1. It’s so steep there are striped protrusions in the sidewalk so that people don’t slip and fall down the hill. A few other Seattle blocks have this.

      2. MLK north of Union is a steep distance from 23rd so it’s a bigger “hit” than it shows on a map.

        Agreed. I almost wrote a couple sentences about that in this essay, but left it out (in the interest of brevity). I alluded to it — this particular area is probably the biggest new coverage hole.

        But the hole still isn’t that big. If you are headed downtown, you don’t walk east-west to the bus stop, you walk north-south. Between the G and the 2 you have much of the area covered. The curve of the 2 (on 34th) is a big bonus, as the folks who would otherwise lose coverage, still have it. Yes, it means going up or down a steep hill, but often people walk down both directions. For example, this way going into town: https://goo.gl/maps/PmFAjSZqCHTYdhgM9, this way coming back: https://goo.gl/maps/gaMoykVJuRusGDNM6.

        The only big drawback is that it is more difficult to go north-south. Riders either have to walk up the hill (to catch the 48) or take a bus and transfer (if they are headed to Rainier Valley). But the buses to transfer are fairly easy to get to (in the same manner) and there aren’t that many people headed to Rainier Valley. There just aren’t that many people who would be hurt by this, and they have alternatives. In contrast, the current plans are terrible, and the results will be devastating for a lot of people.

        I can’t emphasize this enough. If there is one takeaway from this essay, it is that the current plans are terrible. Not disappointing, but terrible. Alon Levy has this concept of an area having “no transit”. Alon looks at the entire city (or a region) and bases it on modal share. But the concept also applies to frequency. Jarrett Walker coined the phrase “Frequency is Freedom”. They go together. If you have a frequent bus in a densely populated area — especially one that is close to other densely populated areas and major destinations — AND you run the buses often, you get very high transit modal share. There is no absolute number for what constitutes “freedom”, but Walker suggested 15 minutes (https://humantransit.org/2011/12/how-frequent-is-freedom.html). For urban trips, everyone who commented suggested something more frequent. In other words, if you are in the heart of a big city and you have to wait 15 minutes for a bus, something is wrong. That ain’t freedom. Other than long distance trips (i. e. to another city) no one suggested that 15 minutes is better than you need.

        And yet Metro won’t even give us that! After this change, the 10, 11, 12, 47 and 49 are no longer core bus routes. They are coverage routes. Riders who take those buses don’t have “freedom”. Some would say, they have “no transit”. They lost it, despite being in the most densely populated area in the state.

        That isn’t the only problem, either. The 2 seems like it is headed down the same road. Because the 2 is very similar to the G (yet runs slower, and a lot less often) ridership will plummet. What will Metro do? Restructure to gain riders, or follow the same pattern as they have here, which is to keep cutting frequency on routes until they wither and die? This treats various core routes like they serve the exurbs, instead of potentially being one of the most productive routes in our system. The future doesn’t look good unless we reverse course, and demand better headways and a better network. Yes, it means that some people have to walk a little bit further to catch a bus. There are far worse things.

      3. “That isn’t the only problem, either. The 2 seems like it is headed down the same road. Because the 2 is very similar to the G (yet runs slower, and a lot less often) ridership will plummet. What will Metro do? Restructure to gain riders, or follow the same pattern as they have here, which is to keep cutting frequency on routes until they wither and die? This treats various core routes like they serve the exurbs, instead of potentially being one of the most productive routes in our system.”

        Ross, you are advocating for a path change to Route 2 that adds 5-10 minutes on between 14th and Westlake. The Madison/14th/ Pike intersection backs up terribly and there are several stop signs (6? 7?) added on Pine since 2016. Meanwhile the residents on Pine St can walk north to Capitol Hill Ststion or south to Madison pretty easily so Pine St doesn’t need more service east of Bellevue. Your plan makes things worse for Route 2! Not only would it take longer, but the longer travel time means that bus frequencies will drop unless more drivers are assigned to the route.

        Had SDOT not demanded left hand doors, Route 2 could have simply been a branch of RapidRide G. The proposed six minute RapidRide G is sucking away lots of hours of service from other routes and appears to be too high for its anticipated demand. Buses could have alternated west of 12th had the median stops been put into the project.

        Your idea here appears to change Route 2 to be only a coverage route more than Metro already does. So why is this better?

    2. This network is aspirational, and Ross agreed when we talked about it last night. Metro won’t consider changing the 27, 49, 60, or 106 now because they weren’t on the list of affected routes and haven’t had public hearings. But it could change them in the future. Metro’s survey ends tomorrow (“Metro is proposing” link above), so in the next 24 hours you can respond with thoughts on Metro’s proposal and also ask it to think bigger to address more of the transit issues in the area.

    3. I personally would try and implement the dogleg on 15th and 19th. South of Aloha, 15th has a lot more people and places. North of Aloha, the situation reverses. Thus the dogleg would manage to cover the most important areas. Similarly, as you head north, the park lies to the west. While people visit, and there is a museum or two there, you lose potential riders as you skirt it. Walking a couple a few extra blocks isn’t that bad. There are a couple apartments where people would have to walk a bit farther, but not that many people would be effected.

      I didn’t draw it on the map, but I could see the bus turning west at the very end, and terminating where the 10 ends now. That would require running the bus on Galer, which would probably be more difficult than Aloha (although they are both arterials). Having the tail turn like that doesn’t cost you much in service hours, nor does it hurt riders. The only people effected by it are those that would otherwise not have service. A route like that would cover everything in the area, solving the 15th/19th conundrum.

      That being said, if you can’t do the dogleg, then what is proposed wouldn’t hurt that many riders. 19th isn’t that far from 15th. Running a bus a lot more often is more important than avoiding what is (at worse) a fairly short walk. Keep in mind that many of the people in the area would just walk south anyway (to Thomas). The folks that would have the longer walk to 15th would have a shorter walk to the G (https://goo.gl/maps/TcFg9gqFRTVdfw166). It isn’t until you get up north that things start looking bad, and at that point, you don’t have that many riders. North of Aloha, there are more potential riders on 19th instead of 15th, but it is still tiny compared to the number of people to the south. There are very few apartments north of Roy. Other than 19th, there aren’t any shops. You have the elementary school, and that’s about it. Holy Names is close to there, but it lies very close to 23rd. There is a church on 18th, and a Russian community center on 19th (all very close to Aloha). So if you can pull off the dogleg, great. If not, this wouldn’t be a big loss as it just isn’t that far of a walk. From a ridership standpoint, a completely separate route (or even a branch) just doesn’t make sense. You lose more riders by running the buses less often.

      From a coverage standpoint, there are much bigger holes in our system (effecting way more people). For example, there is no bus service on Boyer, which means nothing between 10th and 24th, north of Galer. Speaking of which, the 10 just ends at Galer, which creates another coverage hole to the north of there (and also makes trips from the UW to that neighborhood awkward). In contrast, 15th and 23rd are fairly close to each other. Very few people would be hurt much if you ended service on 19th.

    4. RossB floated a jog of Route 10 to/from 19th Avenue East via East Aloha Street. There is no overhead there. It would have to under battery power.

      1. Yes, in general I didn’t address issues like wire (although I didn’t suggest anything that would require a new layover). Moving wire isn’t cheap, but it isn’t that expensive either. In this case, it would make sense to run under battery power, especially since it could go back under wire later. For example, heading outbound (towards Capitol Hill) the 10 could go off-wire as it hit Aloha. Then it could go back on wire as it did a layover. Thus riders wouldn’t even notice and the bus would have plenty of battery power. Going the other way, the bus would have to reconnect at Aloha and 15th (so there would be a slight delay).

    5. The Route 2 alignment on Seneca has strong support

      So what? It simply doesn’t make sense to run an infrequent bus a block away from a frequent one. It is actually a violation of the Metro service guidelines, if I’m not mistaken. You basically doom the 2 to oblivion (at least for that section). Why on earth would you take it over the G? To get a couple blocks closer to your destination? Get real. All buses with similar patterns have fallen apart. The 73 started losing riders the day they created the 67. Anyone on Maple Leaf (even the east side) just walked to the much more frequent bus. The same thing will happen here. In this case, the walking distance is much shorter — literally two blocks.

      Heading up the hill, it is even worse. They will share the same bus stops. This means that a 2 could potentially slow down a G. This is a really bad idea. But again, who would wait for the 2? Unless you are going east of 17th or so, it just doesn’t make any sense. That is a lot of trip pairs — right in the heart of the city — that will be replaced by a bus that runs a lot faster and a lot more often. It is like running the 41 after Link gets to Northgate. Sure, some people prefer it. But does it make sense from a service standpoint? Absolutely not.

      plus using Pine (with several recently installed all-way stops) as well as adding the several additional turns

      It is actually the same number of turns. The 2 doesn’t go “straight” on Union, as it crosses Madison. Inbound (towards downtown) the bus turns left to get onto Madison, then it has to turn right. Thus it makes the same number of turns.

      By consolidating service, we stand a better chance of making the route faster. It reminds me of the Lynnwood Link restructure. At one point, Metro wanted to have the 61 run on 80th, and the 45 remain on 85th. Sure, 85th is slow, but by having buses spread out like that, you make it damn near impossible it will ever by fast for buses. SDOT is slowly doing the hard work of adding BAT lanes everywhere. This was a big part of Move Seattle, they simply ran out of money. If you have buses running every block or two east-west downtown, it makes it difficult to make progress. It is much easier for Metro to basically say “this is the bus street” and this isn’t. Pike/Pine will be an essential transit corridor no matter what buses run on it. Just look at the current plans — they have the 10, 12 and 49 running on Pike/Pine. It is an essential corridor no matter what we do. The more we consolidate service on it, the more likely SDOT will make it faster.

      1. Right, and the G will have six minute headways. This means you could be standing there, waiting for the 2, and you see two G’s go by before you see your bus. Again, if you are traveling between downtown and 15th, why would you take the 2?

        Consider a few scenarios. Imagine you are at 15th and Pike and want to go downtown or somewhere on First Hill. You can walk to Madison and take the G, or walk to Union and catch the 2. There is really no reason to take the 2. The 2 goes down Seneca, the G goes down Madison — they are only two blocks apart. What if you are transferring to another bus — you are much better off with the G. What if you are going to the north end of downtown? With the 2 you have a one-seat ride, while with the G you have to transfer. But transfers downtown are so quick, again you are better off just taking the G, instead of waiting for the 2. For that matter, the same is true if you plan on transferring to Link. The 2 gets you closer to the station, but not enough to make up for the frequency difference. You would have to time it just right for the 2 to be better, and that will happen very, very rarely.

        Or consider the reverse. In this case, it is even more striking, because they run on the same street. We have no way of knowing how they will be timed, but the G will arrive first somewhere between 60 to 100 percent of the time. The G will always be faster. Clearly this will have a big hit on the ridership of the 2.

        In contrast, consider the same scenario, but with the different routing. You are at 15th & Pike, and can catch either bus. Why would you take the 2? Plenty of reasons. You could be heading to Melrose and Pike. Or 9th and Pike. Or 5th and Pike. These are major destinations that many would consider “downtown”. Yet they don’t have the north-south frequency of Third, which means waiting for the (new and improved) 2 is quite reasonable.

        Moving the 2 gives riders in the heart of the area a reason to take it. Without the change, the only people who ride the 2 will be people traveling to Queen Anne or east of roughly 17th (when the G and 2 finally diverge). My proposed 2 still serves those areas anyway, so they won’t be hurt by this. If anything, they will be helped by it, as ridership is less likely to be hammered by the G. We’ve seen what happens when you run a much more frequent bus very close to another one. People just gravitate towards the more frequent bus. Eventually the less frequent bus loses service, and gets less frequent.

      2. “Route 2 has 15-minute headway.”

        … weekday and Saturday daytime. It’s 20 minutes weekday evenings, 30 minutes Sundays and weekend evenings.

      3. Good point Mike. It is worth noting that the G is the same weekends as weekday (every 6 minutes from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM). Then it abruptly switches to every 15 minutes from 7:00 PM to midnight. They plan on making the route a night owl bus as well (it will run from 5:00 AM to 4:00 AM every day).

        While the reduction in evening service seems excessive, it is still better than the 2 (although this is the period when they are closest). The biggest difference will occur on Sundays. The 2 will be running every half hour, while the G runs every six minutes from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and fifteen minutes after that.

        If they continue to keep the 2 on the current pathway, I expect things to get gradually worse. It isn’t like they will suddenly drop frequency in the middle of a weekday. Instead, Saturday starts looking like Sunday. Evening service goes every half hour. That sort of thing. The only way to save the 2 from a service/ridership death spiral is to move it.

  2. Overall this would be a big net win — 20 minute all-day frequencies are a joke for the densest portion of Seattle. I would even say that 15 minute all-day frequencies are inappropriate, all of these routes really should be running every ~10 minutes (and I think most of them are in the pre-pandemic long-range plans).

    So getting down to 12-15 minutes for most routes is clearly better. But I would suggest further cuts to re-invest in frequency:
    1. Don’t bring back the 47. I literally live 2 blocks from a 47 stop and I can say that even if it came back I probably wouldn’t ride it unless it had extremely high frequency because the route is so short that just can’t be justified. From Republican & Bellevue to Westlake it is a 7 minute e-scooter ride (and there are always scooters around), or a 20 minute walk. The scooter probably will beat the bus even if leaves at the same time if there’s any traffic to speak of. Yes, I know that some people can’t ride bikes /scooters, but we can’t optimize for everything. Such a short route ultimately just isn’t competitive.
    2. Truncate the 106 instead of adding service on Yesler. Yesler doesn’t need additional service. 106 riders can transfer to the train or the 7 depending on their destination, both of which are very frequent.

    I don’t know how much time this saves, but if we could get closer to 10-12 minutes for the main routes that would actually be a huge win. Of course, the easiest way to get service hours is to just reserve bus lanes. Almost all of our angst about how slow or infrequent our routes are are on corridors that are >40ft wide. There is nothing physically stopping us from painting BAT lanes almost the full length of the 2, 8, 10, 14 and 49 in your proposal. Yes, there would be massive loss of on-street parking and SOV lanes, but Seattle already has preposterous amount of street space dedicated to cars, doing bus lanes for 5 routes isn’t suddenly going to make it impossible to drive or park. It’s all political though, so I doubt it would ever happen, but it’s nice to dream :)

    1. The 47 is short, but one of the few nice things about Metro’s proposal is that they will pair it with the southern end of the 3. Thus riders will be able to get from Summit to various places downtown (not just Pike/Pine) without a transfer. This continues to a lesser degree as the bus heads up the hill. Summit to 5th & James still works very well. By the time the bus gets to Broadway, of course, it doesn’t make sense. Still, that is enough to justify the route. All other things being equal, short routes don’t perform as well as long ones (there are fewer trip combinations). But this is an exceptional area, given its density. It also doesn’t cost that much to run the bus (since it is short).

      The key piece to me is sending the 49 to Beacon Hill. I feel that is very important (for various reasons) and the 47 complements it. Otherwise, folks north of Denny/Olive/John have to either walk south, or walk east to 15th if they want a one-seat ride to downtown. That seems like a fairly big imposition for a lot of people, when the problem could be solved fairly easily (and cheaply) by just running the 47 every 15 minutes or so.

      I could see truncating the 106, but I disagree about Yesler. Yesler is underserved. The problem is, the tail of Yesler (everything to the east) is fairly weak, while everything to the west (e. g. Yesler Terrace) is very strong. A set of branches solves that problem. The area that would get double the service is especially strong, with plenty of destinations and housing (much of it public). It isn’t ideal, but it is definitely better than the 106 is right now, while costing very little (and asking very little of the existing 106 riders).

      In the long run, I would probably send the 106 to South Lake Union via Boren. Then I would run a different bus on Yesler. This would branch at MLK, and go north (back filling the current 8). Another alternative is to run a north-south bus starting at the northern terminus of the 12. Send it south on 19th, then doglegging to 14th before taking a sharp left on Yesler and going downtown. There are other alternatives, but as I wrote up above, they would require more money. The changes you suggest would save even more money, but I’m fairly pleased with what I’ve suggested since the cost to riders is minimal, while the savings are huge. It is very annoying if you are fairly close to your destination, but have to either walk a long ways, or transfer. For folks heading downtown (which remains a major destination) that really isn’t a problem, while there is much more of a grid, and much better frequency.

      1. I’m sorry, Ross, but the 47 will serve only a very small, isolated segment of Capitol Hill. The biggest reason not to reinstate the 47 is that it’s so close to nearby routes with higher frequency. Other reasons:

        1) Most of the route overlaps with the current 10 and 11.
        2) Bellevue Ave residents are a 5 min walk to Broadway, 5-10 min walk to Link and 5-10 min walk to Olive Way (route 8).
        3) Diverting route 3 to serve a tiny portion of Capitol Hill has extremely lopsided trade-off’s. A few blocks of Bellevue Ave will gain infrequent bus service while the Seattle Center, Lower QA and East QA loose service.
        4) The only segment the 47 truly serves is Bellevue Ave, which is a higher income area.

        I recall when Metro implemented it’s first massive restructure in years (mid 2000’s?). Route 25 served the Laurelhurst neighborhood and was referred to as “their own personal limousine” because the route had low ridership while running in a high income neighborhood. I feel route 47 is the same way.

      2. Jordan, Currently some 3 trips terminates downtown without serving Queen Anne already as Metro seems to believe that Queen Anne isn’t as much of a priority to serve as First Hill and Cherry Hill. They are perfect to be connect to the 47.

        I would rather call those trips the 47 the entire way though. There are currently way too many service patterns on the 3, with some going all the way to Madrona / 34th, some turning back at 21st east of downtown, and some heading to downtown only along with some that goes to SPU.

        The downsize is people need to remember 3, 4, and 47 all shares the same corridor between 23rd and downtown.

      3. To your points, Jordan:

        1) Most of the route overlaps with the current 10 and 11.

        Not quite. I get rid of the 11. I send the 10 down to Pine. Thus it overlaps the 2 and 12, starting at Pine. This is a lot less overlap — basically a mile of unique coverage.

        2) Bellevue Ave residents are a 5 min walk to Broadway, 5-10 min walk to Link and 5-10 min walk to Olive Way (route 8).

        Yes, and Broadway residents area 5 minute walk to Bellevue Ave. That is the point. The 47 runs downtown. The 49 runs along Broadway towards Beacon Hill. The 8 runs to Uptown. The buses go different places, and it isn’t that had to catch them.

        3) Diverting route 3 …

        Steve covered this. Every fifteen minutes, a 3 from the C. D. just ends at 3rd Ave & Virginia. Metro came up with the idea of sending half of those to Summit. I suggest we send all of them there (for 15 minute service to Summit). I agree with Steve — I would rename the bus the 47 (and get rid of the 4).

        4) The only segment the 47 truly serves is Bellevue Ave, which is a higher income area.

        No. Again, with the restructure, the 49 would attract riders from the east and south. Either way, this is an extremely high density area, and not everyone is wealthy. There are a few mansions scattered around, but plenty of apartments as well (https://www.apartments.com/amherst-micro-studios-seattle-wa/7tlgnlw/). Sorry, but that ain’t Laurelhurst.

        The key here is what I wrote in the original essay, under “Complementary Service”. If the 49 remains the same, the 47 is destined to struggle. The two buses compete for riders, making frequency on both worse. Since Metro can’t afford to run both of them frequently, the 47 withers and dies. Meanwhile, if you don’t have a 47 — or if it runs every half hour — then it becomes very difficult to send the 49 to Beacon Hill (via Broadway) and enhance the network. Too many people west of 15th would miss their one-seat ride to downtown. Some would take Link, but that is more involved, since the tunnels are so deep. There is only one Link station as well, making the distance quite far for many. The routing actually complements Link as well, since the people farthest away from Link are going to be closest to the bus routes (unlike today).

        For example, from those apartments I referenced, it is a 12 minute walk to Link (https://goo.gl/maps/B1UHz49D1gfq3pH67). It is also about 12 minutes to Pike (https://goo.gl/maps/CPVB3AX5heaH5REG7). This is way beyond the point where ridership suffers (https://humantransit.org/2011/04/basics-walking-distance-to-transit.html). In contrast, it would be a couple minute walk to catch the 47. So riders heading to downtown from those apartments (and many like them) would have a much shorter walk.

        Now consider the reverse — people closer to Broadway. Under the new network, the 49 does not go downtown (although at least it runs more often). They could walk to the 47, but they don’t have to. They are quite close to Link. Someone due east of those apartments is only five minutes away (https://goo.gl/maps/kr6DEso93Qbi2DSK7).

        That is the whole idea here: complementary service. Think of it in terms of people within a few minutes walk of transit that can directly take them downtown. From Pike west of 15th, you have the 2/10. As you move north, you have a diamond around Capitol Hill Station. There is also the 47, with a band stretching along that west side; similarly, the 10 creates a band stretching along the east. You have to get quite a bit north before you lose the diamond, and those bands start seeming a bit too far apart (even then, they aren’t that far apart). But by then you are close to the park. There just aren’t that many people there (not many apartments, and no one lives in the park). Those riders are like those in Montlake — they can take two buses to get downtown, because the transfer is so frequent. Except they have it better than folks in Montlake. The closest bus goes towards First Hill (a major destination in itself). The crossing buses (which can take riders to various places of downtown) are more frequent.

        There are a lot of tough decisions and challenging areas in the network, but this isn’t one of them. I’ve yet to see anything come close to covering this area as well and efficiently as what I’ve outlined here. Keep in mind, I didn’t come up with the idea — I wish I could take credit. It actually came from Metro’s (now hidden) Long Range Plan. It is brilliant really, in how it solves so many problems at the same time. You dramatically increase frequency to downtown AND First Hill for a huge number of riders at no additional cost. Only a small handful are inconvenienced (and asked to transfer) while many more have dramatically improved transit.

      4. I would rather call those trips the 47 the entire way though.

        I agree. I would also get rid of the 4 and send the 3 to Madrona every 15 minutes. At that point, it makes sense to pair the two ends. For example:

        47 — Summit to Madrona (every 15 minutes)
        3 — Queen Anne to Garfield (every 15 minutes)

        This is way easier to understand. If you are headed towards Summit, you take the 47. If you are headed to Queen Anne, the 3. If you are headed to Madrona, you take the 47. If you are headed to First Hill or Garfield, either bus works.

        The core of the route (downtown to Garfield) still has buses every 7.5 minutes. Queen Anne Still has 15 minute service. Other improvements don’t cost much. Eliminating the tail of the 4 more than pays for running the buses every 15 minutes to Madrona. So basically it is just that 47 extension, which involves buses running every 15 minutes to Summit instead of to 3rd & Virginia. Various other savings more than cover that cost.

    2. There is nothing physically stopping us from painting BAT lanes almost the full length of the 2, 8, 10, 14 and 49 in your proposal.

      I agree. I feel like the problem is more procedural than political. I’ve talked with the new SDOT chief, Greg Spotts. His vision for the city is pretty much the same as mine. He wants to see Seattle be more like Amsterdam, with a lot more in the way of bike and bus lanes. There is a lot of promising work going on (e. g. the changes for the 40 are huge, and unimaginable just a few years ago). But it still takes time. They have to go through the laborious process of gaining public input (even though most comments are basically “sounds good — do it”). You have to do a traffic study to make sure that it doesn’t have negative and unforeseen consequences to other areas (making them more dangerous, or slowing down buses in those areas). We are definitely moving in the right direction, just not fast enough.

      All that being said, we can’t blame all the frequency problems on slow streets. Many of the streets are just fine in the middle of the day, and yet the plan is to run the buses infrequently anyway. Speeding up the buses would be huge, but there is no substitute for a good network.

      1. Before an arterial has BAT lanes, it has to have at least two lanes in that direction. That is not the case for significant segments of the route list. BAT = business access and transit. They are signed transit and right turn only. Consider Route 2 on Union Street; there is one lane in each direction; SDOT added PBL. 15th Avenue East only has one lane per direction.

      2. Good point eddie. There is only so much you can do. I would start with Denny. Just take a lane. That right there would make a huge difference for the 8. You could add BAT lanes on John, but that would mean getting rid of curb bulbs (making it harder to cross the street). Same is true for parts of 15th (for the 10). That doesn’t mean they can’t make improvements, but it means they are smaller. Sometimes these small improvements make a big difference. I’m optimistic about the future Rapid Ride J, for example, even though the bus will run mix with general purpose traffic much of the way. There seems to be just enough in the way of improvements to allow the buses to get ahead of it. I could see that happening along many of these routes.

        I wonder if the bike lanes on Broadway should move to 12th instead. There is plenty of room there, and it isn’t too far away. That space on Broadway could be used to speed up the buses and streetcar.

      3. “I wonder if the bike lanes on Broadway should move to 12th instead.”

        Hasn’t that idea been circulating for a while now? (Or was that just a fever dream I had following the Mariners’ miraculous rise to the top of the AL West? Lol.) I would totally be on board with that change. Has it gotten any traction anywhere?

      4. It has certainly been talked about here, but I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned it.

      5. Moving the PBL from Broadway to 12th would leave First Hill with little bike infrastructure other than a couple sharrows. There is also a large grade difference between Broadway and 12th at the south end. I live on First Hill and use the PBL far more often than, say, the streetcar. It’s a really useful, mostly flat north-south connection.

        That’s not to say the trade-off for bus lanes wouldn’t necessarily be worth it, but it’d require a lot of work. Rebuilding the PBL on 12th, rebuilding the streetcar tracks, and potentially removing all the remaining street parking along Broadway (since the PBL only occupies enough space for a bus lane in one direction).

      6. @Tlgwsm

        > Hasn’t that idea been circulating for a while now? (Or was that just a fever dream I had following the Mariners’ miraculous rise to the top of the AL West? Lol.) I would totally be on board with that change.

        I agree with the others, in retrospect it would have made much more sense to have the bike lanes on 12th while bus and streetcar get a dedicated lane on broadway (and keep the bike lane as a general north bound lane) since that’s where the capitol hill station is.

        > Has it gotten any traction anywhere?

        It is highly unlikely SDOT would revert the bike lane, also I think it’d set a pretty bad precedent to allow other bike lanes to be removed. Though the latest draft transportation does talk about implementing more bus priority on broadway ave. If they removed the parking they could move the general lane there and have some (not all) of the streetcar lanes become transit exclusive. If they move forward with some rapidride combining 36 + 49 that might be implemented.

      7. “I wonder if the bike lanes on Broadway should move to 12th instead.”

        “Hasn’t that idea been circulating for a while now?”

        It was when the lanes were originally built in the 2010s about the same time as the streetcar. It’s more of a “should have been” than “should do now”. I doubt anybody thinks the city would move the lanes when they were recently built.

    3. I don’t know how much time this saves, but if we could get closer to 10-12 minutes for the main routes that would actually be a huge win.

      I agree. I don’t have access to the all the tools for estimating what the headways would be, but here are the savings:

      1) The 47 replaces the 12. Same frequency, but a lot shorter.
      2) The 8 is shorter.
      3) We can think of the 49 as being truncated right at the point where it meets the 60.
      4) The 60 is “straightened out”. Turns are eliminated, making the trip faster.
      5) The 11 goes away.

      The only increase in service hours (over current levels) is for the 49 — it goes from every 15 minutes to every 12. The truncation (item 3) more than pays for that.

      So now all the other changes go into making those other buses more frequent. These aren’t minor changes. At this point I’m obviously just guessing, but it seems quite reasonable to run the 8 and 48 every 12 minutes, if not 10. Now you’ve got relatively few buses running more than every 12 minutes. The 47 is one, and I’m OK with that. Every other 15 minute bus is paired with another route on the busiest sections. Both the 2/10 and 27/106 combine for 7.5 minute headways for much of the way. Again, I’m OK with 15 minute headways on Yesler, east of 23rd (for the 27).

      That basically leaves the 2/10 combination. I think there is a strong case to be made for running both buses more often. The 2 is more complicated, as it runs through downtown, and up to Queen Anne. But that part of Queen Anne has grown considerably, and the 15/30 minute combination (with the 2/13) is simply not very good. It begs for better service. Running the 2 every ten minutes seems quite reasonable. The 10 (which is also begging for better headways) would follow suit. This might be a stretch with current funding levels (I don’t know if the savings could pay for all that) but it is certainly a good idea the second we have more money to spend. With that simple change, a huge swath of this very dense area would have access to buses running every 12 minutes or better.

      1. More time savings (that I simply forgot to mention):

        6) The 43 goes away.
        7) The branch of the 4 is eliminated. Basically there is no 4 — just the 3.
        8) The 8 could have a turn-back at MLK, if we run the rest of it a lot more often. I wouldn’t cut service below 15 minutes, but a combination of 7.5 minute service along the core of the route (MLK to Uptown) and 15 minutes to Madison Park sounds pretty good.

        None of these changes saves a huge amount of service time. The 43 doesn’t run that often. The 4 runs every half hour, and is short. Likewise, the MLK to Madison Park section of the 8 is short. But this all adds up, making good frequency in these core routes quite possible. Just doing some napkin math, I come up with the following (route, followed by frequency):

        2 — 10 minutes (C. D. to Queen Anne until Galer)
        2 — 20 minutes (north of Galer)
        3 — 7.5 minutes to Garfield; 15 minutes to Madrona
        7 — 7.5 minutes
        8 — 7.5 minutes to MLK; 15 minutes to Madison Park
        10 — 10 minutes
        13 — 20 minutes (north of Galer)
        47 — 12 minutes
        48 — 12 minutes
        Streetcar — 12 minutes
        Other buses — 15 minutes


        2/10 — 5 minutes (Pike/Pine, west of 15th).
        27/106 — 5 minutes (Yesler, west of 23rd).
        47/streetcar — 6 minutes (Broadway, along streetcar section)

        Spines on Jackson, Third and Pike/Pine from west of Bellevue Avenue (as the 47 joins the 2 and 10).

        At this point, the key would be speed, which helps frequency as well. Buses running every 7.5 minutes along Denny may be a stretch now, but becomes fairly easy if we can speed those buses up. In turn, that means we might be able to run the 48 every 10 minutes, if not better. This would be a major improvement in transit for an area that prior to the pandemic had most of the high performing routes in the system.

  3. I agree that the Metro proposal is very disappointing; long headways on routes 10 and 49 would be sad. Has Metro shared their hours budget? Are hours going to the G Line? Are there better places to take hours than routes 10 and 49?

    Ross concepts
    There may not be a feasible Route 27 pathway between Leschi and Mt. Baker; the planners looked at that for the 2009 project.
    Route 8 could use as many trips as possible west of 16th Avenue East; does Madison Park need that service level? This concept was suggested in the AWV scenarios and with U Link.
    Route 49 would need a turnaround loop and layover with wire; the old Route 36 turnback is at South Dawson Street, quite a ways south. It would also need straight through wire across South Jackson Street. What would happen with Route 60? If truncated at Beacon station, it would need a turnaround loop and layover.
    Route 2 would need some new overhead to reach Pine Street. Al is correct about the support for the Seneca Street pathway.
    Route 106 to Yesler would be strong; it was in the reductions network; it would serve the better end of the Judkins Link station. ACRS borrowed that extension for their proposal for 2016 but on Rainier and Jackson it duplicates routes 7, 14, and 36. Yesler Way and Yesler Terrace do warrant better service.

    1. @eddiew: IMC Trolleybuses exist. Because IMC’S exist, the 2 doesn’t need wire to jog from Pine to Union. The 49/60 proposal would need some new wire, but not on the whole route.

    2. The tails of the 27 and 14 were a bit of an add-on. I had built the map from a while back (as part of a much bigger proposal) and just left it in. I also removed it, since it really doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. Unlike a lot of the other changes, it isn’t focused on frequency, but just cleaning up a messy part of our system. If that proves impossible, then so be it.

      Route 8 could use as many trips as possible west of 16th Avenue East; does Madison Park need that service level?

      No, but it is fairly cheap to provide it. The alternatives are:

      1) Extend the G to Madison Park. This is more expensive in terms of capital (more special buses and special stops) as well as operations (the 8 should be frequent, but I don’t think it will ever match the frequency of the G).

      2) Double up service in areas that don’t need it either. This ends up costing more money.

      3) Run a bus along MLK, but send it to Madison Park (instead of taking a left and going to Capitol Hill/Uptown). I could see this. The bus would have a fairly good match in terms of ridership potential. It could run every 15 minutes. That being said, it still costs more money, as you are putting back service on MLK. A lot of riders will simply walk to the more frequent 48. Thus it basically becomes more of a coverage route, although with decent ridership.

      I feel like the best option is to just live with a small imbalance on the eastern side of the route. Again, it doesn’t take that long to run that route, minimizing the cost (and making the difference in ridership per mile fairly low).

      What would happen with Route 60?

      It would layover at Beacon Hill. There would be some changes here in terms of layovers and wire, but nothing too crazy. The 107 lays over at Beacon Hill Station (although it does approach from the other direction).

      1. So the south part of the 60 between Beacon Hill and Westwood Village would become a separate route?

      2. So the south part of the 60 between Beacon Hill and Westwood Village would become a separate route?

        Yes. Sorry I didn’t make that clear. I don’t normally edit a post, but I will do so, as I could see how that would be confusing.

        The 60 would be like the 107, in that it would end at Beacon Hill Station. You would force some to transfer (e. g. South Beacon Hill to First Hill) but you gain back just as many (north Capitol Hill to First Hill). Mostly you save a lot of service, while doubling headways on Broadway, along the streetcar path.

  4. Ross, you simply can’t ignore the folks on Broadway who live north of Aloha and those along Harvard E who are cut off from Eastlake by I-5. They are not going to appreciate losing their connection to downtown. Yes, there’s a need for a Broadway District to Beacon Hill direct route; I agree with that, but it should be an overlay. The 60 currently makes that connection, though via the dogleg through First Hill along Ninth. Though it fails the ideal of a straight route, perhaps that’s enough.

    Now maybe there is a good argument for running the 49 down through First Hill to improve the link between the Broadway District and the center of downtown and lower First Hill, either using the Seneca overhead or on the existing Madison wire. That’s worth a look, for sure.

    But the folks north of Aloha really have no other bus service except for the couple of blocks at Roanoke where they can walk down to Eastlake. I expect that many more of them would prefer to go somewhere downtown than to Beacon Hill.

    1. Downtown-bound riders of Ross’ 49 could catch Link at 15th and John, or one of several buses headed straight down the hill at various points along the proposed route.

    2. Could the 47 be extended along Belmont and Lakeview? There’s still a bit of a coverage gap around Saint Mark’s but not nearly as much, and presumably it wouldn’t add more than a few minutes of travel time to the 47.

      1. I think so. In Metro’s old “Long Range Plan”, they had that. They had a bus that went along Lakeview, and then turned east to cover Boyer, and then went north again to the UW. That is a lot more work. Simply going a few blocks north along Lakeview could work, as long as they find a way for the bus to turn around. As you wrote, it wouldn’t cost much, while extending coverage.

    3. Ross, you simply can’t ignore the folks on Broadway who live north of Aloha and those along Harvard E who are cut off from Eastlake by I-5.

      I’m not ignoring anyone. If anything, it is Metro that is ignoring huge numbers of riders with this proposal. I’m suggesting buses every 12 minutes on 10th. Metro is proposing buses running every 20 minutes. That is the big difference.

      They are not going to appreciate losing their connection to downtown.

      They still have it — it just requires a transfer, that’s all. Again, we are talking about people who are so far north that they can’t easily walk to the 47 or 10. We are basically talking about people north of Prospect, if not Highland. At that point, density drops off. There are people, just not nearly as many as live to the south. But again, that misses the point. A hub and spoke system where everyone is expected to be able to take a one-seat ride downtown is simply not sustainable. I know people who loved the 41 because it ran very close to their home, and now they have to transfer. That is just life.

      In this case, the bus does more than just serve Beacon Hill, it serves First Hill (via Broadway). This is huge. First Hill is a big enough destination that Metro insists on running express buses on the freeway to serve it. In this case though, serving First Hill actually saves you money. Riders can still transfer to downtown (via Link, or any number of very frequent buses) while they have a one-seat ride through First Hill (an area many people would consider part of “downtown” anyway). So basically it just serves another part of downtown, while enabling very good transfers to other parts of downtown. All the while running a lot more often.

      1. I said, and I quote

        “Now maybe there is a good argument for running the 49 down through First Hill to improve the link between the Broadway District and the center of downtown and lower First Hill, either using the Seneca overhead or on the existing Madison wire. That’s worth a look, for sure.”

        I’ve seen a Madison option shown on previous maps, so I’m not off on the Moon here. So please don’t go all Daniel on me and start lecturing. I get that it’s a tough problem to solve

        So far as the folks between Aloha and Highland using the 10 instead, in this same discussion I see that you’ve considered diverting the 10 to 19th Avenue at Aloha. If that were done, folks between 12th and 15th who now probably take the 10 would be hoofing to 10th East, adding to the demand on the 49.

        I can that folks on Beacon Hill might very much want a great bus connection to First Hill and the Broadway District. They have it now in the 60, which is a full-time bus. No, it doesn’t follow an optimal routing for those actually heading to the Broadway District, but it SURE is useful for folks headed to healthcare jobs on First Hill. It passes close to all the major facilities.

        But what I don’t see is a whole lot of 10th East riders wanting to go to Beacon Hill. They have plenty of entertainment options close by in the Broadway District.

        One of the transit “axioms” that you quote to Daniel is that places relatively close together attract more riders than places far apart do, and I strongly agree. That’s why I wouldn’t want to prioritize 10th East to Beacon Hill as much as 10th East to First Hill if I were forced to choose where to send the single route serving 10th East north of Aloha. And I do understand that at the southern end of First Hill, Broadway is perfectly adequate for access; it’s just not nearly as good at the north end.

      2. So far as the folks between Aloha and Highland using the 10 instead, in this same discussion I see that you’ve considered diverting the 10 to 19th Avenue at Aloha. If that were done, folks between 12th and 15th who now probably take the 10 would be hoofing to 10th East, adding to the demand on the 49.

        Aloha is one block south of Prospect. Prospect runs next to the park. So you aren’t taking about that many people who have a longer walk, nor is it that much farther. Basically this: https://goo.gl/maps/Gip7Hrd633fXebQ37 instead of this: https://goo.gl/maps/YhMvDFRc5EnsGbxn8. Furthermore, there is only one apartment north of Aloha, and east of 11th, and it has only ten units. It would be a three minute walk to the bus stop (https://goo.gl/maps/itegx3ZFgdsJeK297). Thus there just aren’t that many people who have to walk farther with the turn.

        That is the beauty of making that turn. Of course there are winners and losers, but very few losers. Normally moving farther away from 15th would be crazy, but because of the park, it costs you very little. You increase coverage considerably, especially if you finished it off by wrapping around to the west again (https://goo.gl/maps/8iGeBaWmMX3LM6Ux9).

        Meanwhile, the folks to the west of the park either take the 47 or the 49. The fact that the 49 no longer goes downtown doesn’t hurt that many people, simply because not that many people live north of Aloha. Even if you eliminated the 49 entirely and replaced it with the 47, you wouldn’t lose that many riders. The bulk of the riders (those close to Aloha or further south) would just switch (to one of the other two buses, or Link).

        Except that isn’t what I’m proposing. I’m proposing that we retain the 49, and run it a lot more often to First and Beacon Hill. As you do that, you inconvenience some riders, but make life a lot more convenient for others. It is worth noting that while just about everything south of Aloha is fairly dense, it is not uniform. It is extremely dense west of Broadway (the Summit neighborhood). Moving east, density goes down a bit, then picks up again around 13th. So now consider the area with the biggest density (Summit). Right now, their only option to go anywhere is to take the infrequent 49. If the plan is implemented as shown, their only option is to take the infrequent 49, or the even less frequent 47. Both go downtown, along pretty much the same pathway. Some would walk to Link, although for many, that is quite a walk. Thus you are basically screwing over one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Seattle.

        I’m not saying 15 minute service for the 47 is great, but it beats the hell out of 30 minutes (or no service at all). Likewise, running the 49 every 12 minutes (but along Broadway) is a big improvement. It is basically an extension of the very popular 60. Worth noting — the 60 gets significantly more riders than the 49 now — clearly a lot of people want to go to First Hill. This makes that trip along First Hill better than ever, by extending it (and avoiding a lot of the twists and turns).

        For those north of Aloha (or thereabouts) it reminds me of the 43. (I also get rid of the 43 with this proposal — I should have explicitly called that out.) Riders of the 43 lose their one seat ride to downtown. But in return, they should get better service on the 48. It means a transfer, but with the G especially, not that bad a transfer. You trade some one-seat rides for better frequency. This is similar, but better. You trade some one-seat rides for better frequency and other one seat rides. The 48 exists now. The only potential improvement to it is frequency. In contrast, this extends the number of easily accessible one-seat rides that people can take to First Hill, which is a much bigger destination than 23rd/Rainier Valley.

    4. Ross, I apologize for not doing what I have urged others to do. That is “say what I LIKE about your plan”, and that is certainly “most all of it”. It’s well thought out, improves the grid in a fairly hard neighborhood to do that, and gets better use of the available bus hours. So, well done.

      My ONLY question is “what about the folks along 10th East and Harvard E for whom this is the only practical bus. Most of them won’t be using the bus very often, because, yes, the neighborhoods are pretty chi-chi. If they take the bus southbound at all, they’re likely to be going to the Broadway District, First Hill or downtown. A few might be going to Beacon Hill, but not that many. Your routing would be “for the people in Beacon Hill”. And they do already have access to First Hill and the Broadway District.

      Tenth East and Harvard East have had transit service since very early in the 20th Century, if not actually before. So far as the “well, then, transfer at CHS”, yes, that is an option for quickly mobile people. But, really, only once Line 2 starts operating opposite to Line 1. Then the transfer will be high enough quality to make the transfer worthwhile.

      1. My ONLY question is “what about the folks along 10th East and Harvard E for whom this is the only practical bus.

        Some win, some lose. But overall, way more winners than losers.

        It gets complicated, but first consider the folks who live south of Aloha. For one-seat rides to downtown, life is still very good. In fact, I would say it is better. You have three choices for going downtown. Link, the 47 and the 10. The 10 is considerably more frequent. The 47 is more frequent than the proposed 49. Thus instead of riders walking east to catch the 49, they walk west to catch the more frequent 47. Some win, some lose, but overall, way more people come out ahead (south of Aloha).

        So that basically leaves folks north of Aloha, along the same corridor. There are fewer potential riders here, but still significant numbers. Again, they come out ahead. Let’s start with a very common set of trips: UW. The increased frequency is huge, and makes a big difference. Then there are those that transfer to Link. Again, the better frequency makes a huge difference. People who now transfer to get to First Hill come out ahead as well.

        So you really only have the people who are headed downtown (along the current pathway) that come out ahead. Even then, many come out ahead. They get much better frequency (12 minutes versus 20), and the transfers are very good. No one likes to transfer, but no one likes a bus that runs every 20 minutes either.

        This is a key point. There are always winners and losers, but the loss isn’t very big. Imagine the biggest loss, which is something like this: https://goo.gl/maps/NrKsTvLegEcpEqfQ8. You are completely dependent on the 49. You aren’t headed to First Hill, nor are you headed to the main part of downtown (served by Link). You are headed to 8th and Pine, right on the existing bus line. Now you will be forced to transfer. Except the bus comes along every 12 minutes, instead of 20! The bus that you transfer to comes along every 7.5 minutes. The total wait time (on average, or worse case scenario) is actually less! Under the current plan, you might just miss the bus and have to wait 20 minutes. Under this proposal, you could just miss the bus and wait 12. If you then just miss the bus again — which means really bad luck — you are forced to wait another 7.5 minutes. So total wait time is still better with the transfer, even if you are extremely unlucky.

        Overall, it isn’t even close. For the area, there are way more winners than losers, and the winning is much bigger than the losing. That is what happens when you make a better network. Frequency is critical, and this improves frequency in an elegant way. I’m not trying to sound arrogant — as I pointed out before, I didn’t come up with this idea. It just happens to work extremely well.

        This brings up another point:

        Your routing would be “for the people in Beacon Hill”.

        No. It has little to do with Beacon Hill. I don’t know why you get that idea. The big winners are those in the region north of Beacon Hill (what I would call the “Greater Central Area”, basically everything south of the ship canal, east of I-5, and north of I-90). These folks would come out way ahead. Again, here are the key elements to this plan: Frequency, frequency, frequency. Seriously though, here are some of the highlights:

        Broadway — 6 minute frequency! Holy cow, this is huge. It comes from rerouting the 49, and combining it with the streetcar.

        Pike/Pine west of 15th — 7.5 minute frequency (instead of 10)

        49 — 12 minute frequency (instead of 20)

        47 — 15 minute frequency (instead of 30)

        Keep in mind, these numbers are in the midst of a major reduction in service. It is easy to imagine running these buses even more often in the future.

        But just consider that first item again. Metro has struggled with the express buses to First Hill from Link. On the one hand, it is hard to get to First Hill from Link. On the other hand, it uses a lot of service hours to run these express buses (especially since they only run during rush hour). They haven’t performed well. So what is the solution? Basically this! Seriously, you get off the train, walk to the surface, and catch a bus/streetcar running every six minutes. Likewise, at the end of the day, you don’t have to choose between the 60 and the streetcar — the stops are the same.

        I get that fact that lots of people want a one-seat ride to downtown. But it is just a really bad idea to run the 41 every twenty minutes, just because some people don’t want to transfer. The same goes for those along 10th/Harvard. It is time we stop pretending we live in a podunk city, where the only people who take transit are headed downtown, or so desperate that buses running every 20 to 30 minutes is OK. That is not the city we live in. Frequency matters, and not everyone is going downtown.

  5. If so many buses didn’t have to go through 3rd, maybe there will be more bus drivers and frequency available elsewhere.

  6. The 49 losing service hours due to an essentially unrelated line getting upgraded is the tell to me that Metro is massively struggling to hire and retain enough operators. >15 minute headways for that line is really bad.

    We’re at least a year overdue on finding a way to funnel more money into Metro to get hiring going. Whether that means hiring bonuses or (more) raises, just make it happen. Is the county council asleep at the wheel here?

    1. Metro’s staffing issues are partly self-inflicting. The draconian work culture simply cannot complete with the flexible post-COVID, 21st Century work options that are out there. The hiring process is a multi-layered circus of hoops to go through only to find out that you start part-time AND have to pay union dues… then drive a massive vehicle and deal with atrocious clientele. Driving a bus isn’t fun anymore and Metro thinks it still is.

    2. The declining numbers of bus drivers has been a well known issue for years. The better pay will help with some recruitment but turnover bus drivers will stay high because of the poor working conditions. Talk to just about any bus driver that’s worked at metro longer than 5 years and they can give you a long list of how metro could make their job a lot better. Or just ask the union about breaks, bathrooms, security issues, heavy handed management.

  7. The CHS blog posted a review of various neighborhood groups’ thoughts on the 47 today: https://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2023/08/this-time-the-goodbye-to-capitol-hills-metro-route-47-looks-permanent/

    The most interesting quote is from Central Seattle Greenways:

    “Our members have conflicting feelings about the 47,” said Brie Gyncild, CSG co-chair. “Some welcome the possibility of resuming service to Summit and Bellevue north of Olive, while others aren’t sure it’s the best use of resources. So as a group, we’ve agreed to be silent on the issue.”

    1. I think this is because of the 49 (and Link to a lesser extent). The buses are fairly close. They both go to the same place. So running the 47 again (at very poor headways — every half hour) doesn’t seem very appealing. The only way to get anything decent in the area is make a bigger restructure, and Metro isn’t willing to do that.

      Or to put it another way: without changing the 49 (and other buses, to get better headways) I’m ambivalent about the 47 as well. Overall, the network is terrible, and they are simply giving people a choice as to which terrible option they like more.

    2. I lived in Summit from 2005 and 2010 and I’m ambivalent about it. I can’t decide between alternatives A and B because they have about equal tradeoffs.

      Three points: The hill up to Broadway is very steep, so elderly people can’t walk up it to the 49, and nobody can when there’s snow and ice. Second, the northern end of the 47 is pretty far from other routes, and there are apartments north of the terminus. Third, I love taking the 47 when I can because it’s quiet and low-stress and a short trolleybus. Still, I’m ambivalent about keeping the route vs more frequency elsewhere.

  8. Thanks Ross for the proposal and the effort for the detailed map.

    Seems fine/ambivalent:
    * Moving 2 over to Pike/Pine, seems fine either way
    * 14 and 27 changes, not against the routing to mount baker station, but a bit confused why it’s relevant for rapidride G
    * 106 change to Yesler, I think it’s fine to move it there. Considering the 7 currently covers Jackson and Rainier pretty well.
    * 60 and 49 merger seem fine

    Some concerns:
    * Moving the 10 to Pike/Pine earlier moves it farther away from the Capitol Hill Station. Though I guess many can get on/off at Westlake Station
    * Moving 8 to reach Madison Park, as eddiew noted, it seems a bit misallocated? Or at least heading south towards Mt baker station and the future judkins park station seems more fitting for this higher frequency route. Or turning around at madison street for higher frequency.

    1. “Moving the 10 to Pike/Pine earlier moves it farther away from the Capitol Hill Station.”

      This was its routing until 2016. It was moved to John Street to give 15th direct access to Capitol Hill Station, and to backfill service on John when the 43 was reduced. But after it was implemented and people voted with their feet, many people switched from the 10 to the 11 to remain near Pine Street, and the 10’s ridership lowered. So being near Capitol Hill Station is not their #1 issue. Having the 10 and John also created a kind of transit hole on Pine between Broadway and 15th where only the infrequent 11 was left. Having the 10 on Pine ensures there’s frequent service to the top of the hill in the busy Pike-Pine corridor. People are having to walk up the hill from Broadway without it.

    2. 14 and 27 changes, not against the routing to mount baker station, but a bit confused why it’s relevant for rapidride G

      It’s not, and I regret including it. As I wrote up above, I created this map somewhat last minute, based on a previous (more extensive map). Basically it is just housecleaning — an excuse to fix things in the area. RapidRide G is a big change, so a series of cascading changes is in order, but those particular changes could happen with or without it.

      Moving the 10 to Pike/Pine earlier moves it farther away from the Capitol Hill Station. Though I guess many can get on/off at Westlake Station.

      There is a big trade-off there. I’ve gone back and forth, but the more I look at it, the more I prefer going that way (which is what Metro settled on as well). There are a lot of things on Pike/Pine that are worth accessing. Just as importantly, it doubles up frequency along Pike/Pine, at least to 14th. If we ran the 2 a lot more often (e. g. every 7.5 minutes) then I could see the 10 following the current pathway.

      Moving 8 to reach Madison Park, as eddiew noted, it seems a bit misallocated?

      I’ve largely answered that up above. There are bound to be service mismatches in our system, as the buses go east. That is true along every corridor. One thing (that just occurred to me) is that you could have a turnback, similar to the 3. Half the buses keep going to Madison Park, half the buses turn around at MLK. I could see frequency being similar, especially if they make the 8 faster (i. e. 15 minutes to Madison Park, 7.5 minutes between MLK and Uptown). I’m hesitant to give anyone 20 minute frequency, especially Madison Park, which is fairly cheap to cover, and relatively urban.

  9. Never understood why the 106 was truncated at Chinatown. It’s outright unfair to MLK riders to force them to transfer while every other route from all other parts of the city and region go through downtown. Inconsistencies like this drive me nuts.

    Merging the 60 and the 49 might present reliability issues. That would be a long route zig-zagging through lots of chokepoints.

    1. While it went downtown in the 90s, it was repeatedly downgraded and eventually truncated at Mt Baker. It was re-extended to International District because the ACRS (Asian Counseling and Referral Service) and other squeaky wheels had been complaining for years about route 42 being deleted, so Metro extended it to International District for equity. “Every other route” does not go downtown, and fewer and fewer of them are over time. The nearby 7 goes downtown, so that’s a reason for the 106 not to. Rentonites have the 101 express to downtown.

      1. Indeed I remember the deletion of the 42 and the subsequent outcry. But there’s no need for it to terminate in Chinatown. This forces people to transfer. Meanwhile, routes that serve downtown run the entire length of it (i.e. 24, 5, 150, 7, 28, 36, 554, 21,, 124, 101, E, etc..). Routes that don’t serve the entire length can’t because of how they enter downtown, such as the C and 125 and routes that come from First Hill. There’s no reason for route 106 not to run all the way to Westlake like every route coming from the south.

      2. The reason is that running yet another bus all the way through downtown costs money and uses up drivers, which means that service would have to be paid for by either reducing frequency of the 106 or reducing frequency of some other route.

        Is the one-seat ride to Westlake worth it if it means that the bus runs every 20 minutes instead of every 15 minutes? Or if service between 10 PM and midnight is reduced from every 30 minutes to once per hour? I would argue not, especially when switching to Link at Mt. Baker would get you to Westlake in the same amount of time as the one-seat ride would, anyway (at least, on a normal day, when Link service is not reduced).

        The only way I could see the 106 offering a one-seat ride to all of downtown making sense is if it were thru-routed with some other route, thereby avoiding the slog of the extra bus through downtown. But, the thru routes that make sense are already taken, and thru-routing with a long route such as the 40 or 62, or a trolley route such as the 70, would not work.

        Really though, I don’t think the 106 should be going downtown at all, as the Rainier Valley is already connected very well to downtown, even without the 106. You’ve got Link, plus the 7, for example. Instead, the 106 should ideally continue down Rainier/Boren to First Hill, at point, it could either thru-route with the 49 to the U-district, or taken Boren to South Lake Union and plug that longstanding hole in the service grid.

        For historical reasons, or bus network in general has been way to downtown-centric, to the point of starving trips to/from other areas of good crosstown service, even areas very close to (but not quite in) the city center. Back in the 1990’s for example, it was a basic, unquestioned assumption that the purpose of transit was all about getting people to and from a few blocks in the center of the city known as “downtown” (particularly during rush hour), and to go anywhere else, everybody was supposed to buy cars if they wanted to get there. Today, we are slowly but surely moving away from that line of thinking, but it takes time; extending the 106 to cover all of downtown, at the cost of reducing frequency, would be moving things backward.

      3. Because I don’t ride Route 106 regularly, I am unsure of how CID and Skyway are socially connected. Still, Route 106 is long and it takes quite awhile for a bus to go from one end to the other. I would hate to make it longer and less reliable.

        The systems problem with Route 106 is that by sending both Routes 7 and 106 down Jackson there remains no way to directly go to Harborview from SE Seattle on a bus.

        The core driver of having Route 106 is of course the health services at MLK and Walden. It’s one if those features that the armchair bus route designer doesn’t see at first. Laying out an entire bus structure to achieve that objective — and ignoring what to me seems of greater importance (like giving all of SE Seattle direct bus access to the closest emergency room) is a problem with the current structure. Another factor is that MLK south of Columbia City has evolved into a “second CID” so that Route 106 is also used even beyond the health services.

        That is why the other duplicate route, Route 7, gets periodically debated for rerouting. There are several ways to do this, but the wires become a barrier to doing anything . It’s why I think restoring Route 9 would be a clean solution to consider. Route 9 would need to shift some buses and drivers from Route 7 and the buses would need to be battery electric rather than trolley wire but it would solve many things:

        – Connect Rainier Ave corridor with Rainier Beach Link
        – Connect Broadway and First Hill with SE Seattle directly
        – Connect Judkins Park station with all First Hill hospitals
        – Preserve high bus frequency on both Jackson (7 and 106) and Rainier (7 and 9) south of Mt Baker by offering two routes (but with much less duplication).

        I even toy with ideas of what a Route 9 extension on Capitol Hill could look like. Turning at John or Aloha and then serving 19th is one idea (east jog). Connecting to SLU or Bellevue Ave somehow is another (west jog).

        Admittedly, it’s tangential to the fate of the overall bus structure to opening RapidRide G. But so are many of the other proposals presented in by Ross in this post. Making big changes would require a much bigger restructure discussion than Metro has had on the topic. At this point, I am generally supportive of letting RapidRide G and Judkins Park open and only making modest changes since this will be opening in the next 12-18 months no matter what. Any major service change messes with the lives of riders (especially those who make housing and employment decisions because of a route structure) so it needs plenty of lead time and feedback — rather than be forced by a service planning staff or worse an armchair route designer like me and others here.

      4. “I am unsure of how CID and Skyway are socially connected”

        There are family ties, shopping connections, church connections, and socioeconomic similarities all along it, from the CID to Little Saigon to Rainier Valley to Skyway to Renton. Many of the people who were displaced from southeast Seattle due to rising housing costs ended up in Renton, and still shop in southeast Seattle or know people there or go there for other reasons.

    2. Merging the 60 and the 49 might present reliability issues.

      Maybe, but I don’t think it is that bad. It does make a few turns, but for a very long stretch (Roanoke to Yesler) it is going straight. South of there, it does a short dogleg, then follows the main pathway up to Beacon Hill Station, where it ends. North of there, it follows the current 49 route, which hopefully will get a bit better with the improvements to the RapidRide J. It avoids a lot of the turns of the current 60. I could see it getting bogged down on Broadway, and as mentioned up above, it would be nice to see improvements along there, even if they don’t go so far as adding BAT lanes the whole way. Likewise, my other main concern is the bridge, and hopefully they fix that with the J.

      Overall, it doesn’t seem especially problematic.

      1. Remember, the 60 operates all the way to West Seattle – not Beacon Hill. Hence the zig-zagging. A route that long operating on arterials is bound to be consistently late and will require heavy recovery time for operators.

    3. > Never understood why the 106 was truncated at Chinatown. It’s outright unfair to MLK riders to force them to transfer while every other route from all other parts of the city and region go through downtown.

      That’s a bit misleading, 106 is also one of the few bus routes with a link line. While the link definitely does have wide station spacing in South Seattle, I’m not quite sure it’s unfair to them. The other bus routes heading north near link the 71/72/73’s besides 70 were heavily canceled/truncated. The northgate link station and future lynnwood link stations will also have other busses stop at earlier stations instead.

      > Merging the 60 and the 49 might present reliability issues. That would be a long route zig-zagging through lots of chokepoints.

      I agree it does seem kind of an odd pairing.

    4. Merging the 60 and the 49 might present reliability issues. That would be a long route zig-zagging through lots of chokepoints.

      It has taken me a while to realize I wasn’t very clear with the 60. It would run from Westwood Village to Beacon Hill Station. It would layover next to the 107. I’m sorry if I implied that the 60 and 47 would be completely merged — yes, that would be too long. I have updated both the text of this essay, and the map to reflect what I meant. Again, sorry about the confusion.

      The new 49 would be longer than the existing 49, but not especially long. If it followed the existing 60 pathway to Beacon Hill, it adds about ten minutes (from roughly 38 to 48 minutes midday). By running straight down Broadway, you probably reduce that considerably. Meanwhile, the 60 goes from over an hour (midday) to 35 minutes. So the new 49 is shorter than the existing 60, and the new 60 is much shorter. The overall length of the routes (and thus reliability) is better.

      That doesn’t mean there aren’t potential delays — the same is true in various places. But it does look like the crossing of the University Bridge will get better (with the RapidRide J project) and we could (and should) do things to make Broadway faster (even if don’t do anything radical, like move the bike paths).

  10. Overall, I’m not quite sure how to fix the grid better with Rapidride G. This ‘real brt’ corridor is just oddly chosen, beyond allowing first hill direct to downtown it isn’t really heading to prime destinations. Even say routes 2 & 10, if they had left side doors, I’m not sure routing them down Madison Ave is where people want to go versus to Westlake. Can’t even through-run it with the 8 the other high frequency route as it’s also east-west. Maybe have it split branch past 23rd with one branch going to Madison park and another branch taking over route 8’s mlk segment?

    1. Overall, I’m not quite sure how to fix the grid better with Rapidride G.

      I do — I just did it :)

      Seriously though, just like Capitol Hill Station (CHS), the RapidRide G doesn’t solve all our problems. Partly it is the street layout. Denny and Boren couldn’t reach a compromise with Maynard. Thus a true grid is impossible between Yesler and Thomas, as all of the streets curve (except for Madison). Even the 8 isn’t straight across, as it has to dogleg in a few places.

      So the G seems weird, but any route is going to seem weird, given our weird street grid. It is still a very nice addition that we should leverage. As I see it, there are two different ways to do that:

      1) Avoid doing the same thing. Send buses elsewhere, adding service to areas that may need it just as much.

      2) Complement it with other bus service. Because of the street grid, this gets tricky. But I think in general it is easier than trying to complement CHS (as the G will have several stops in the area, while Link only has one).

      There are several examples of this on the map, such as:

      The new 8 to Madison Park — Riders from Madison Park lose their one-seat ride to downtown. But in exchange, they gain a one-seat ride to Uptown. Just as importantly, they would have a connection to the most frequent bus in our system, which serves First Hill and downtown. They also get a good connection to Link. Thus this achieves both goals. The bus avoids duplicating the G, while connecting to it very well.

      2 — By moving the 2 to Pike/Pine, this increases frequency on an underserved street. Riders who miss that ride to First Hill and Madison still have it though, via a transfer to a very frequent, fast bus.

      10 — Similar. It doesn’t quite cross the G, but it comes very close. Close enough that someone headed to Madison would just walk a block.

      49 (replacing the 60) — I would probably make this change anyway, but the G makes it easier. If you are coming from the north and headed downtown, you have very frequent crossing buses. From the north you have 2/10 for Pike/Pine (7.5 minutes), G for Madison (6 minutes), 3 for James (7.5 minutes), 27/106 for Yesler (7.5 minutes), 7/36/streetcar (7.5 minutes or better). Someone traveling along that corridor sure feels like there is a grid, as these are fairly well spaced. Of course they also have Link. But Link has a bit of a transfer penalty because of the station depth. It also doesn’t completely cover downtown — if you are headed to 6th, for example, the buses are probably better. Going the other way the 12 added a lot of value, but it only runs every 15 minutes. The G connects you to all of Madison every 6 minutes. As before, you still have the 10 (for areas north of Thomas) but this gets to various locations much quicker.

      If we had more money, I would run a bus on Boren. That works with the other grid, if you will, the one based on the waterfront. It would run perpendicular to the G.

      So overall, I really have no issue with the RapidRide G. It might not be the one and only BRT I would build in the city, but for such a short route, it seems just fine.

      1. @Ross I’ve been pondering your comments about the 49. I think your right that it should continue on Broadway rather than duplicate the service on Pine. I think a good solution here would be to have the 49 continue to Rainer and serve the Judkins Park Station and then layover on Walker at the current 4 terminal. No new wire would be needed to accomplish this. At the same time Metro could discontinue the 4 with the new routing for the 49 creating an efficient link between Rainer Valley and First Hill. The 70 could be interlined with the 7 during the evening.

        I think Metro should retain 15 minute service on the 10 and 12 and allow for every 7.5 minutes combined on Pine. This could be justified by changing the routing for the 49. Every 20 minutes is way too infrequent for those routes.

        The 2 has very different routing than the the G except for the shared segment on First Hill. I don’t see any reason to change it. It does a nice job of connecting Queen Anne, Belltown and First and Capitol Hill. I think Metro was smart to keep this the way it is.

        The 8 may be lightly used between Madison and Mt Baker but I don’t think it should be discontinued. With the opening of Judkins Park it will be an important link for those areas that are further away from 23rd. Pairing it with the 48 between Mt Baker Transit Center and Judkins Park will also be useful. It’s too bad is so unreliable during peak on Denny. What Metro could consider doing is breaking it into two routes during the day and interlining it the rest of the day

  11. When Madison BRT was first proposed, I suspect many residents mistakenly believed that the new RapidRide would be in addition to the current bus service in the area. In other words, that the result would a lot of new service hours in and around Capitol Hill/First Hill/Madison Valley, which could arguably be a bigger benefit to the area than the street improvements, themselves.

    Now, people are being told “not so fast”. They get a new bus, but they don’t get any new bus service, so every trip on the G-line must be taken, one for one, from a trip on some nearby route.

    I wonder if the public would have been as supporting of the G-line when it was first proposed had they fully read the fine print.

    1. It was a different, headier time. Transit was moving to a trunk and spoke system covering huge distances because riders would need long trips and live in TOD. . Everett to Tacoma to Redmond to almost Madison Park, next to Broadmoor.

      A million new residents would move to the area, mostly “urban” Seattle. They would all need to get to offices in downtown Seattle. Link would wisk them back and forth to Bellevue, and a Link like RR., because there was inadequate parking. Why run RR G to Madison Park when all those residents in the SE Central Dist. and MLK would be commuting (with a transfer) to offices downtown on the G. Or to Capitol Hill.

      The Federal government would pay for much of the capital costs, inflation was 0-1%, and there were lots of drivers and lots of farebox recovery and revenue for frequent bus service. Everyone would give up their cars. Seattle was safe. Seattle didn’t need police because progressives were so smart they didn’t need common policemen. Drugs were cool. So was CHOP.

      The powers that be thought transfers would be welcomed because frequency on both parts of the trip would be 3-5 minutes. . Seattle was the up and coming city of the world with a soaring AMI. Seattleites were so proud of themselves, as the Irish would say.

      As Ross and Fesler have pointed out the Achilles heel was going to be feeder service, both frequency, route, and transfer time. Link would run along the freeway north/south and Metro — that used to run routes in HOV lanes on the freeway — would suddenly save thousands of service hours running frequent buses east/west through a bramble of streets and 1/2 fares, if anyone paid, with riders demanding double the frequency because of the transfer.

      This system can work well for long distance peak commuters going downtown, but disadvantages the shorter, local, urban bus trip, especially if funding is tight and suddenly equity means S Seattle and S King Co.

      It is just the same mistake this region has made: focus transit on suburbia to downtown rather than the urban fabric, never expecting the suburban person to stop coming because urbanists view suburbanites so dismissively they assumed these rubes liked commuting to downtown Seattle from their hell hole in suburbia. And then the money went away for the frequency that is critical to a trunk and spoke system in which fares are shared and mythical savings from truncation meant less coverage and frequency.

      Of course no one wold vote for ST 3 or RR today, maybe even ST 2. It was all lies, even pre-pandemic. Certainly not the rubes in eastern suburbia who pay the bills. Because the poor suburbs south and north always vote no, even in good times, because they are just smart enough to to understand this transit shit isn’t for their benefit.

      1. DT. I’m actually beginning to come around to your viewpoint especially in recent months with the exploding open drug use in this city as well as complete evisceration of HCC programs across SPS in the name of equity of outcomes at all costs. How are the schools on Mercer Island? Might be worth the move from Queen Anne if I don’t have to send my kids to private school. One thing that concerns me is that my colleagues who live on the island still send their kids to private schools.

    2. > Now, people are being told “not so fast”. They get a new bus, but they don’t get any new bus service, so every trip on the G-line must be taken, one for one, from a trip on some nearby route.

      I was always a bit questioning why Madison was receiving so much transit capital benefits for it’s relatively low ridership. I mean even before the Pandemic route 11 only has like 4k riders or the 12 with just 3k riders. Compared to say Rapidride E with 17k, Route 7 with 10k or for other ‘smaller routes’, route 45 with 7k or route 106 with 5k. Or for a different First hill ones, route 3 had 6k riders and route 4 4k riders together on james street that’d be around 10k riders.

      The ridership is just kind of low compared to the benefits its receiving causing issues to bus hour allocations. I mean if any of those other routes I talked about got this ‘real brt’ treatment it wouldn’t be as large of an issue because they are already running more frequently and/or the speed improvements from the bus lanes could cover more frequency + some additional funding. In this case route 12 sure it’s a short route, but like why are we building a brt like this?

      James Street, Denny Way, Jackson or many other corridors etc.. could have actually used the speed improvements.

      1. Yeah, Metro 8 should have been a BRT. It’s always packed during rush hour.
        The 11 and 10 were never super busy.

        It’s the same idiocy of running hundreds of near empty buses all through the day on 3rd Ave, while the waterfront and Belltown near the waterfront/Sculpture Park are completely unserved.

      2. The closest thing to the G is the 2 and the 12. The 11 also runs on Madison for a little bit. All three buses had very good ridership per hour. Prior to the pandemic, they all ran about four trips an hour. But since they didn’t run on the same corridor the entire time, it wasn’t like twelve trips an hour, more like eight on a particular section, which explains how it would get so many riders, but not be that crowded.

        The 8, in contrast, only ran every twelve minutes in the middle of the day (or five times an hour). As busy as that corridor is, it probably has fewer people (but only one bus handling the demand).

        The biggest argument for BRT on the east-west part of the 8 is that it would leapfrog things in terms of speed and reliability. The same is true for the 3/4. It will be nice to have buses running quickly on Madison, but I don’t think it is as slow there as it on some of the other corridors (which have a lot of riders).

        Part of the problem with BRT in general is how it is funded. Imagine two projects:

        1) New BAT lanes and center running in various places. Buses painted a different color to make it clear to people that the line is special. Off board payment, with fancy stations.

        2) BAT lanes and a stop diet.

        The government is way more likely to give you matching funds for the first project. You can call it “BRT”, and get appropriate funding. It is better, but it may be that you get 90% of the benefit just from adding BAT lanes and a stop diet.

        Assuming they are approved, the changes for the 40 fit into that second category. This looks to be a dramatic improvement in speed and reliability. The same thing would occur if they had BAT lanes for all of Denny (for the 8). Of course off-board payment would be a nice addition, but avoiding traffic is the biggest issue.

        But the federal government encourages “big” projects, which is why we end up with more RapidRide, and fewer projects like the BAT lanes for the 40.

    3. every trip on the G-line must be taken, one for one, from a trip on some nearby route.

      Who said that? Seriously, that makes no sense. If anything, it should be the reverse.

    4. RapidRide G was devised by SDOT and forced upon Metro. It has a fundamental structural difference in that it’s much shorter than every other RapidRide line. It only has 10 stops in each direction and is less than 3 miles long.

      So it’s too long to be a shuttle but too short to save a huge amount of travel time.

      It’s unfortunate that there has so far been no interest in making the route longer. It could have been extended on the east end to connect northward to UW or turn southward to end in SE Seattle. It could have turned northward at the west end and go to Belltown or Lower Queen Anne or southward to Pioneer Square and the Stadiums or further than that. It could maybe have been through connected to another RapidRide line. These concepts could still be put on the table but for some reason they aren’t.

      Should we be discussing extension ideas?

      1. I think the problem is that if the route were extended, it would become too expensive to operate to run every 6 minutes.

      2. So it’s too long to be a shuttle but too short to save a huge amount of travel time.

        I disagree. Consider this trip: https://goo.gl/maps/ubbT2wpwEXq9gXHj7. The rider leaves ten minutes after noon, and gets downtown at 12:30. That is a twenty minute trip, bus stop to bus stop. They didn’t just miss the bus either — it was there 7 minutes ago. The G will not only be significantly faster, but a lot more frequent. At worse, a trip like that would take less than 15 minutes — and that is if you just miss the G.

        This isn’t the full length of the route, either. But that really doesn’t matter, since the main value is the speed and frequency of a surface option — the ability to just hop on and off to quickly get where you want to go. The off-board payment (the very short dwell times) actually makes a bigger difference for trips like this, since they take up a bigger portion of the travel time. If I’m taking the E downtown from Green Lake, it is nice that they have off-board payment. But the bus operates basically as an express from that point — making only three stops before downtown. This bus will make a lot more stops, serving a lot more people.

        This is surface transit, not Link. With Link, there is a significant penalty (in many cases) to get to and from the platform. As a result, some people on Capitol Hill prefer taking the bus downtown, instead of walking to Link. But there are still plenty of people taking Link just one stop (Westlake to CHS) even though it is “too short to save much time”. The same thing is true of the monorail. It is short, and only has one stop on each end. It still manages to get plenty of riders. This is better in many respects (like having a lot more stops, and being much easier to access) but the main thing to keep in mind is that fast, frequent service in an urban environment is bound to get lots of riders.

        It is especially convenient if you are transferring. The worst part of a transfer is the wait time. But the speed and reliability of this route makes a big difference. There is also the time it takes to walk between the two vehicles. Most of the people who will transfer will arrive by bus (way more people get downtown by bus than by Link) and those riders have a good transfer. Again, the key is the speed and frequency of a surface option.

        Consider a reasonable alternative: Link. Folks have complained about the lack of a First Hill Station for a very long time. Imagine if they decided to run a train under Madison to 23rd. It would likely run every ten minutes (not six) and have very deep stations. You would end up with stations farther apart, as well. Overall, it would likely be *worse* for *most* riders, even though Link would be faster. This bus is about as good as you are going to get for what constitutes a very big set of potential riders. Not every trip is a long one, and a lot of long trips involve a transfer.

        If I were to extend it, I would likely do so downtown. Ending at MLK is a reasonable thing to do, as buses converge there. The corridor with the most riders lie to the west (Madison and Denny/John/Thomas) or due south (along 23rd/MLK) and in both cases it would require a hairpin turn. So that leaves northeast or north, where density drops dramatically. Going north is probably the only logical choice, but you would have to do a lot of work to make it fast, and simply doing that same work for the 48 would provide almost as much benefit. Again, this runs every six minutes and on the surface — thus asking some of those riders from Montlake to transfer is quite reasonable. If you are at the UW, then the express nature of Link (which makes only one stop between the UW and downtown) and the frequent nature of this bus work well for most destinations, even if you have to transfer.

        So I see no problem with the eastern terminus. It is downtown where I see the weakness. The connections to the buses and the ferries are great, but the connection to Link is not. It is even worse for connecting to Amtrak and Sounder (although the streetcar helps a bit in that regard). So I could see the bus looping around to Jackson, via 1st. For those heading from the ferry, this would delay their trip up the hill (although the trip from First Hill to the ferry would be just as fast). So it would have advantages and disadvantages for sure. It wouldn’t be easy to pull off, and given the spine on Third, might not be worth it. If you get off Sounder, it would be annoying to take the bus a few blocks and then another bus up the hill, but the first bus would appear in seconds, and the other bus within just a few.

        Another option would be to focus on the Link connection (which really isn’t that bad in my opinion). But if you wanted to make it even better, then you could loop around to the north (like so: https://goo.gl/maps/n4GbhzRf9HkryynA8). You would probably just move the 3rd & Spring station to right in front of the station. You would need BAT or bus lanes for First, which could happen if they shift buses to First. The delay for someone headed up the hill from the ferry would still be pretty minor since the loop isn’t that big. You do have a left turn, but it is the same turn that the 2 takes. There would be more turns in general (instead of two right turns there would be three right turns and a left). But in exchange you have a bus stop right at the exit of the Link station (and a tiny bit more downtown coverage).

        In general though, I don’t see anything fundamentally wrong with the route. Fast, frequent surface transit does not have to go very far to be really valuable. I think the biggest weakness, by far, is that we aren’t leveraging it to fix the various problems with routes that exist in the area.

  12. https://www.theurbanist.org/2023/08/31/metro-floats-reviving-route-47-in-flawed-bus-restructure-proposal-for-rapidride-g/

    This update may be relevant to Ross’s excellent article (I thought). In the article Fesler compares Metro’s new proposal to return the 47 but at the cost of service on other routes in a “revenue neutral” process, a follow up to his earlier article I linked to in which he analyzed whether truncation to RR or Link really benefits urban areas that mostly have shorter transit trips when service on those urban routes is often cut in a revenue neutral plan. Fesler concludes:

    “But more fundamentally, this restructure around new rapid transit — much like the Lynnwood Link restructure for the north end — really illustrates the need to reform Metro’s service guidelines which direct bus restructure processes. Bus restructures spurred on by new rapid transit lines shouldn’t result in local transit network service reductions. It violates the contract that has been made with riders and voters that new rapid transit lines are supposed to expand the pie, not eat away at it. At some point, riders and voters will catch on that new rapid transit investments aren’t delivering on that promise and the political consequences to transit is not likely to be good.

    “Ultimately, shiny new rapid transit doesn’t mean a lot if you can’t get to where you want to go in a timely manner.”

    I think the hope was truncation would avoid this, but it doesn’t look like it has. IMO longer or more work-related trips on Link or RR benefit while shorter intra-urban trips suffer.

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