Open Thread: Priorities

Matt Driscoll writes about the political dangers of struggling transit projects.

The mission of Trailhead Direct has changed slightly ($).

I-5 traffic will be re-routed onto and off of Montlake Boulevard this weekend, likely slowing down the 48, 255, 271 and 542.

Sound Transit report mentions cost overruns for West Seattle, along with other issues.

Alon Levy writes that local representation on public transit planning boards is bad.

Sound Transit staff has recommended prioritizing Lynnwood light rail service over an East Link “starter line” in recent board committee meetings.

Stride bus projects slip further behind, while locals don’t like street widening. Converting a general purpose lane to a bus-lane would save money, speed up the project, and eliminate the need to widen the street. I guess that is too obvious a solution.

This is an open thread.

Comment Soon on the Lynnwood Link Bus Restructure

We have until this Friday, March 10th to comment on the Metro Bus Restructure for Lynnwood Link. I’ve written about the initial plan, made suggestions and explored ideas on the subject. Here are my recommendations, in order of priority:

  1. Run a bus on Lake City Way to make up for the loss of the 522. This is important from both a ridership and coverage standpoint. The simplest and cheapest way to do this is with a live loop through the Roosevelt neighborhood.
  2. Send the 348 to the UW, not Northgate. This eliminates the need for the 67, saving money. Riders lose their one-seat ride to Northgate, but gain a one-seat ride to the UW. The station at Roosevelt replaces Northgate for riders heading south.
  3. As a way to save money, eliminate the proposed 324 and cover the area between Kenmore and Bothell with an extension of the proposed 334.
  4. Extend the 72 to Shoreline Community College, and truncate the 333 there. This improves connectivity. This is also a more natural fit in terms of frequency, as the rest of the 333 is a coverage route (while the 72 is not).
  5. Straighten out routes to avoid long delays caused by turning.
  6. Avoid running infrequent routes that overlap or compete with frequent transit.
  7. Put the savings from the various cost saving changes mentioned above into better frequency, especially on east-west routes that run on the main transit corridors.
  8. Explore extending the 61 to 15th NW, with a live loop like so. The bus would then intersect every north-south bus north of the ship canal. This would be especially handy for trips to Ballard from Northgate and Lake City.

To visualize these changes. I came up with two maps, the first of which is oriented towards ridership:

While geared towards ridership, it actually provides better coverage in many places. From a baseline standpoint, most of the buses would run every fifteen minutes or better. The 75, 333, 334 and 336 would run every half hour. But since this has a lot less overlap, and a lot fewer turns, the buses could run a lot more often. East-west service (on buses like the 61, 72, 348, etc.) could be bumped up to 12 or 10 minutes. Some of the half-hour buses buses could run more often. For example, the 334 could run every 15 to 20 minutes to give Northwest Hospital more frequent service, while the 75 could be restored to its current service level (15 minutes).

The second map is geared towards coverage:

This is similar to the other map, but with a few changes. The 336 provides a lot of additional coverage. Service is restored in the Hillwood neighborhood (west of Aurora Village). The bus loops through the Briarcrest neighborhood, passing by a high school, middle school and several elementary schools. The 333 is extended to serve Four Freedoms House. Despite the extra coverage — more than the Metro proposal — it would still have better frequency, as there is less overlap and more efficient routing.

Seattle Bus Restructure for Lynnwood Link

This is another in a series of posts about the bus restructure following the Lynnwood Link extension. This one is geared towards Seattle, although the maps include north King County as well. As before, they cover a number of themes. There is one additional theme worth mentioning:

  • Whenever possible, overlapping buses should increase frequency on worthy areas.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. If timed, the routes can form a nice branching system, where the “trunk” has justifiably more frequency than the “branches”. However, timed branches tend to be “brittle”, in the sense that any change requires a similar change on each branch. For example, the 347 and 348 each run every half hour, but combine for 15 minute headways along a popular corridor. We can’t improve frequency on the 348 to 20 minutes without doing the same for the 347. Otherwise service would be worse for that shared section. In contrast, with enough buses along a common corridor, they can form a “spine“, where timing is not important. But you need lots of buses to get to that point.

Challenging Neighborhoods

There are several neighborhoods in northwest Seattle that are challenging to cover. The first is the Haller Lake neighborhood. Other than Northwest Hospital, this is a very low density area (for Seattle). The hospital is especially difficult to serve (it isn’t “on the way“). Northwest Hospital has surprisingly poor ridership, but that may change over time, given its expansion. I came up with at least a half-dozen ways of connecting it to the network, but none of them are particularly satisfying.

The Four Freedoms area, in contrast, has a lot more riders. My guess is there are plenty from the facility itself as well as surrounding apartment buildings. This particular part of town (close to Linden, between 125th and 145th) is one of the more densely populated north-end neighborhoods, and it continues to grow. The 65 will serve some of the riders, and a stop at Four Freedoms House would complement it nicely. However, detouring to the stop is just not worth it. It makes more sense to end a route there, if possible.

Finally, there is Broadview. It isn’t that far from Broadview to the 130th station, but I couldn’t find a combination that was worth it. Like Metro, I find it hard to justify service there, unless the city (or county) had better overall coverage.

Austere Proposal

As with the previous maps, you can make it full page (in its own window) by selecting the little rectangle in the corner. There are a lot more routes, so I put them in different “layers”, visible on the legend (to the left). Thus you can hide or display the unchanged routes or those that are the same as the Metro proposal. Selecting individual routes highlights them. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if you find it hard to understand (there are a lot of lines).

The baseline frequency for these routes is 15 minutes. The exceptions are the 333, 334 and 336, which would run every half hour. It is worth noting that the word “austere” is a bit misleading. This covers less of the city than the “robust” map (although more than the Metro proposal) but that doesn’t mean it is worse. It has fewer routes and the routes are faster. Thus for the same amount of money, many of these routes could run a lot more often. I would especially like to see better headways on the east-west routes (like the 44, 61, 62, 65, 72 or 348). I could see many of these routes running every 10 or 12 minutes.

Most of the routes are the same as the previous austere map (for north of Seattle). The exceptions are:

  • 76 — The simplest way to cover this part of Lake City Way.
  • 348 — Sent to the U-District instead of Northgate. This saves money, as there is no need for the 67, and the bus spends less time making turns. Riders lose their one seat ride to Northgate, but gain a one-seat ride to the UW. I expect riders on the main cross streets (185th, 145th, 130th) to take an east-west bus to a Link station (that is much faster to access than Northgate) while those in between those cross streets access Link via 185th or Roosevelt Station.

Robust Proposal

With the “robust” map, there are a couple additional modifications:

  • 46 — Northwest Hospital is still connected to Northgate, but via 5th Avenue NE, which means a faster connection from the hospital to Link.
  • 76 — Extended to Four Freedoms.

Several routes are combined for good headways along major corridors, while increasing coverage. The 65 and 76 combine for 7.5 minute headways along 125th/Roosevelt/130th corridor, similar to how the 344/346 and 348 combine along 185th.

Likewise, the 46 and 346 would run every half hour (opposite each other) for combined 15 minute headways along 5th Avenue NE. They would then combine with the 61 (running every 15 minutes) for 7.5 minute headways between 5th Avenue NE & Northgate Way to the station.

As with the previous proposal, there are a lot of options, and I would like to hear what people think in the comments.

News Roundup: Cars Running into Buildings

Following a Seattle Times article, the Seattle Bike Blog joins the discussion. (I think the buildings should wear more visible clothing, and stop talking on their phone.)

The Urbanist looks at Sound Transit adding retail to the stations.

There will be some late night work on the Link rails starting tonight. For a complete list of Sound Transit service alerts, check here.

Metro Transit looks to the future (Seattle Times article).

Streetsblog writes about the importance of transit to community colleges.

This is an open thread.

Ask Sound Transit to Study Sending Ballard and West Seattle Trains Through the Existing Tunnel

The deadline for comments on studies for the West Seattle and Ballard Link extensions is today. Please ask the board to study sending the trains into the existing tunnel, rather than building a new one.

Benefit to Riders

From a rider standpoint, reusing the existing tunnel would be fairly simple. All the trains would mix, just as East Link will mix with the main line. Transfers would be much better. Same-direction transfers would be trivial (e. g. Rainier Valley to the UW). Simply step off the train and wait for a different one (on the same platform). Even reverse direction transfers would be fairly easy (e. g. Seattle Center to the UW). Just go up and over, using the existing stairs, escalators and elevators.

In contrast, the proposed transfers vary from bad to terrible. Simply going the same direction could take anywhere from three to five minutes, maybe worse. For many this will mean a new, onerous transfer (e. g. Rainier Valley to the UW). For others, an unnecessary hindrance to the new addition. Someone going from downtown Bellevue to Denny might very well ignore the new tunnel and new line, given the poor transfer experience.

Travel to and from downtown would be worse for most riders as well. The stations in the new tunnel are not as good as the old ones. They are deeper, and there are fewer of them. The vast majority of riders, given the choice, would prefer using the stations inside the old tunnel.

Possible Issues

Sound Transit has expressed fear that the trains downtown would simply be overloaded. I seriously doubt it. As a city and a nation, we are rapidly becoming less peak-oriented. There is still a rush hour, but from a transit standpoint, a smaller percentage of trips occur during this time. With some work, it is quite possible the trains could run every 90 seconds, according to Sound Transit. Even running them every 2 minutes would provide the same potential throughput (30 trains an hour through downtown) as a second tunnel could provide. Running the trains more often would require elevating or burying the tracks in Rainier Valley — something Sound Transit has never even considered. But it is also quite possible that we never see 6 minute trains in Rainier Valley anyway, which means the downtown tunnel could handle the extra load with ease.

In the highly unlikely event that we do have capacity issues during rush-hour, there is a very simple, much less costly solution: run express buses. There are plenty of riders who would love to have their express buses back. You wouldn’t need to bring all of them back, just the ones that have proven very popular. For both train and bus riders, reusing the existing tunnel is better.

Sound Transit has suggested that getting rid of the tunnel would be “Not consistent with ST3 plan”. If find this hard to fathom, given they are studying the elimination of stations like Avalon and Interbay (Dravus). Unlike those changes, this would actually be better for riders, not worse. To the extent that people even care about a new tunnel, I’m quite confident they prefer better transfers with better downtown stations.

There are other technical issues that may make it difficult to reuse the tunnel. That is why a study is needed. It is possible that mixing the tracks (otherwise known as interlining) is more disruptive and expensive than adding three new stations (and a tunnel). I doubt it, but stranger things have happened. That is why it makes sense to study the technical issues, to get an idea of the various trade-offs.

Deadlines for comments are today. Please let the board know you want them to study reusing the existing downtown tunnel for West Seattle to Ballard Link.

North End Modifications to the Lynnwood Link Connections Plan

This is another in a series of posts about the Lynnwood Link bus restructure. This covers the area north of Seattle. I have two maps, but neither should be considered a full-fledged proposal. They are a set of ideas, and I doubt either would be adopted in its entirety. The first one is austere — a bare-bones system that is intended to provide coverage where it is needed most. The second covers more of the region, while providing an important corridor with very good frequency. It is unlikely we can afford the latter, or have to settle for the former. We would likely get something in between.

Common Themes

Despite the differences, there are some common themes:

  1. Straighter routes. Turning takes extra time, especially at major intersections. Traffic signals favor cars going straight, which means a turn may take several light cycles.
  2. Avoids roads that are congested, but have few riders. 145th and 175th, for example, don’t have many apartments, but lots of traffic.
  3. Infrequent routes should exist for coverage, not connectivity. An infrequent bus that runs along the same pathway as a frequent bus will not get many riders, even if it saves some people a transfer.
  4. Coverage routes should save riders a considerable amount of walking. The routes should be spread out whenever possible.

Austere Proposal

It is easier to read the map if you expand it to full size (it will open in its own window), providing a legend on the left side, listing each route. Selecting a route brings it to the foreground. The 333, 334 and 336 on this map would be infrequent (30 minute headways in the middle of the day). This proposal saves service hours by following the general guidelines mentioned above as well as cutting back coverage, frequency and direct connections, such as:

  1. No service along the county line between Aurora Village and Mountlake Terrace. Very few riders use those stops.
  2. No service along 145th, west of the Link Station. This is more than made up for with service along all of Meridian. The service hole that the proposed 46 creates along Meridian between 130th and 145th has a fair number of riders.
  3. No service along 175th. There won’t be many riders either way, but at least going north-south is very fast.
  4. No coverage for parts of the proposed 336 (NE 150th, 30th Avenue NE). These areas are close enough to more frequent buses.
  5. The 334 (replacing the 331) is extended east to Bothell, to cover a service hole mentioned in this post. If Sound Transit added a bus stop for the S3 at 83rd Place NE (where there is a crossing and existing bus stops) you wouldn’t need this extension. That would save Metro a considerable amount of money, while giving riders in the area better bus service.
  6. No 324, which means no direct connection between Lake City and Kenmore/Bothell. I don’t believe this is necessary, nor do I think the 324 would perform well. Relatively few people are taking this trip. Those that are going this way will likely take a more frequent bus simply because it will arrive first.
  7. No direct connection between Aurora Village and Mountlake Terrace. Riders can take the 130 or a Link/Swift Blue combination. Some of the riders who make this trip right now are transferring to Swift, in which case it would be the same number of transfers, while also saving them wait and travel time (Link is fast and frequent).
  8. No direct connection from Aurora Village or the northern part of Aurora to Shoreline Community College. The RapidRide E is very frequent, running every 7.5 minutes in the middle of the day. Riders can easily hop on the E, then take the bus directly across 160th, instead of waiting for a bus that winds back and forth to get to the college.
  9. No direct connection between parts of Aurora and Link. The proposed 46 and 334 run along a corridor served by the very fast and frequent E. Very few riders will bother waiting for their direct connection, and instead just take the E and transfer. In both cases the buses are going the opposite direction most people want to go, further hurting ridership. People generally don’t like going the wrong direction, especially if it would take a while (e. g. north up to 175th, east along 175th, then north up to 185th to the station before heading south).

Overall, with the exception of the first item, coverage is largely a wash. Some people have a longer walk to a bus stop, others are closer. Frequency is reduced, but in areas with relatively few riders. A few direct connections go away, but the extension of the 72 makes up for it. Not only does this give a lot more people a direct connection to the college, but it gives those same riders a connection to the RapidRide E. While there are drawbacks to this proposal, they are largely worth the cost savings, and it would mean better service elsewhere.

Robust Proposal

This proposal provides additional coverage, direct connections and frequency. Specifically, it:

  1. Covers the greater Hamlin Park/Briarcrest area (east of 15th NE) with the 335.
  2. Restores coverage for the Hillwood neighborhood (west of Aurora Village) with the 336.
  3. Covers 205th (south of Lake Ballinger) after all. The 333 could be timed with the 130 to provide good combined headway between Aurora Village and Mountlake Terrace.
  4. Extends the 334 (from Ballinger/North City) to Aurora and Shoreline Community College. This adds a direct connection to an important destination, while also giving lots of people a good connection to the RapidRide E.
  5. Individual routes are as infrequent as with the austere proposal, but the combined headways along 185th would be excellent. If timed properly, you would have 7.5 frequency connecting Aurora with North City (and the station). Some of the trips would still involve two transfers, but with fast and very frequent service along 185th and Aurora, this would make up for it.

There are a range of options here, and I would like to know what people think in the comments.

All of Lake City Way Should Have Frequent Bus Service

As we covered a while back, Metro is gathering input on bus routes following the implementation of Lynnwood Link. They have initially proposed a sizable service gap along Lake City Way, as well as limited connectivity in the area. This should be fixed.

Current Service and Future Plans

There are three buses that run on Lake City Way south of Northgate Way: The 322, 372 and 522. The replacement for the 522, the S3, will no longer go on Lake City Way. Metro is planning on eliminating the peak-only 322. The 372 (or its replacement, the 72) does not go south of Ravenna Avenue. This would leave a considerable stretch of Lake City Way with no bus service at all.

Ridership and Coverage

The 522 currently serves a bus stop at 20th and 85th, along Lake City Way. Before the pandemic, more 522 riders used that stop than any outside Seattle. Close to 400 people used the bus stop every evening on that bus alone. This was for an infrequent 522 that did not connect to Link. Prior to Northgate Link, the stop was served by other express buses (like the 312 and 309) which had another 150 riders. This was happening before the current boom in development around the bus stop.

But it isn’t just the ridership from that one stop. Without service along that corridor, the coverage gap from eliminating the 73 grows larger. It is easy to argue that riders of the old 73 should walk to Lake City Way or Roosevelt to catch a bus, but if there isn’t service on Lake City Way, a lot of riders would have a very long walk to the nearest bus stop. The 372 does not serve 95th (as it has to move over into the left lane to get on Ravenna Avenue) and there is no crossing Lake City between 20th (85th) and 95th. This makes the trip to the nearest bus stop much longer than it appears. To get from these apartments on Lake City Way to the nearest 372 bus stop is quite the trek, no matter which way you go.

There is also the fact that the 522 and 372 go to different locations. The 522 connects to Roosevelt, a growing and increasingly important neighborhood. Directly connecting the Lake City and Roosevelt neighborhoods (as well as the places along the way) is a worthy endeavor, and will increase ridership along that corridor. It is also a much faster way to get to Link. According to Google, it takes about 20 minutes to get from that neighborhood to Link via the 372 while it takes only 5 minutes via the 522. This time savings applies to anyone along Lake City Way south of Northgate Way.

Route Options

There are a number of different ways to cover this area, but I assume it will require a new route. For sake of argument, I will call this new route the 76.

Option 1: Lake City to Roosevelt Station

The cheapest option for the 76 is to go from Lake City to Roosevelt Station. It is short and fast enough that a bus could make a live loop using 65th, as shown above. While short, it is likely this would be one of the most useful, cost-effective buses in the area.

Option 2: 145th to Green Lake Park and Ride

The second option is to basically do the reverse. Instead of starting in Lake City, it would start at the Green Lake Park and Ride. It could then do a live loop in Lake City, using 30th, 145th and Lake City Way. This would connect to Stride S3 (522) as well as more of Lake City. With bus service this far north, we could truncate the 72 at the Fred Meyer location, or double the service (and halve the headway) between 145th and Lake City.

Option 3: Lake City to U-District

The third option is to run from Lake City to the U-District, providing one-seat rides to the second biggest destination in the city. I show the bus laying over at Campus Parkway, but there are other options, such as through-routing with a bus going through campus or going further to the UW Station. A bus serving the U-District could potentially live-loop on either end, although it might be too long of a route.

With any of these options, the bus should be synchronized with the 72, providing very good headways along much of Lake City Way for relatively little cost.

No matter how it is done, the area should have frequent bus service along this corridor. Please let Metro know by commenting on the Metro Restructure for Lynnwood Link by March 10th.

Does the Stride S3 (522) Need a Shadow?

The buses in the north end of the county will be restructured with the arrival of Lynnwood Link. A big part of this is the new Stride S3 route (also known as Stride 522). Some have called for a “shadow” of this new frequent and fast, limited-stop route.

What is a bus shadow, anyway?

The term “shadow” is a bus that makes all the stops, while the other bus does not. A good local example is how the 101 “shadows” Swift Blue. Swift sometimes has very long distances between stops — well over a mile in some cases — while the 101 makes a lot more stops.

The 372 and 522

Currently, the 372 and 522 follow much the same pathway from Lake City to Bothell. The 372 makes more stops, but not a lot more. The Stride S3 will make even less, and it won’t go to Lake City. Metro is proposing to do away with the 372, and replace it with two buses — the 72 and 324. While the 324 does other things, it also operates as a shadow for the S3. In the following I break down the S3 bus stops into sections to see what stops might be missed without the 324.

148th Station to Lake City Way

The proposed 72 covers this section. Even if Metro alters their plans, it is highly likely some bus will run here.

145th to Ballinger Way

There are only two bus stops that the 372 covers that Stride will not. The first is a southbound-only stop at Bothell Way & 39th Avenue NE. This bus only carries 3 riders a day (on average). The other is very close to the Ballinger Way stop (about 200 meters) and is not covered by the existing 522.

Ballinger Way to Kenmore Park and Ride

The S3 will continue to use every bus stop in this stretch. Even if it didn’t, the 331 (or its replacement) will cover this section.

Kenmore Park and Ride to 96th Ave NE (Waynita Way)

This is where things get interesting. There are no planned S3 bus stops along this section, while there are four existing 372 stops, and one 522 stop. Prior to the pandemic, these stops served about 150 riders a day. I think it is fair to say that most of these riders would walk quite a bit farther to a bus stop if there was no bus along that stretch.

96th Ave NE to Bothell

There are no S3 stops between Kenmore and 98th Avenue NE. Fortunately, the 230 meets Bothell Way at 96th Ave NE (Waynita Way) then heads northeast towards Bothell. The 239 crosses the river and the highway on 102nd Avenue NE, before covering the heart of downtown Bothell. Basically those two routes have it covered.


While seen as a “limited stop” bus, the new S3 will make almost every stop along its route. The one area that lacks service is between Kenmore and Bothell. The 230 and 239 cover some of this, leaving only the section between 68th Avenue NE and 98th Avenue NE needing coverage. That is the only section where a shadow would make sense. This could take the form of a 331 or 225 extended eastward from Kenmore to Bothell.

New Metro Restructure Proposal for Lynnwood Link

Metro is seeking input on “Phase 2” of Lynnwood Link Connections. In Phase 1 they gathered input on what the public wanted, and now they have taken those ideas and proposed a restructure. There are several themes common with this proposal, which are listed after the map.

Fewer Routes and Less Coverage

After the Northgate restructure, there were 5 express buses from the north end. Now that is down to just one — the 322. It is the only bus to go over the I-5 ship canal. Buses will instead connect to Link. This reflects a move away from expensive, peak-only express routes, towards a more all-day system.

But that isn’t the only place where service is being simplified. Several corridors will no longer have coverage. The 73 is gone, which means no service on 15th NE between Pinehurst Way and 75th. 5th Avenue NE, between 120th and Northgate Way (served by the 75 and before that the 41) will no longer have service. The 346 is gone, and with it is service on Meridian between 130th and 200th. There are more, but the most controversial change (to me, anyway) is the loss of service along Lake City Way between Ravenna Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue.

More East/West Service

One of the big suggestions to come out of phase one was to improve east-west travel in the area. Several routes help accomplish this goal. The 61 replaces the 20, linking up Greenwood with Northgate and Lake City. The 65 now covers the 125th/130th corridor, connecting Bitter Lake with Lake City and 35th NE (making a trip from Ingraham High School to Nathan Hale High School a one-seat ride). Instead of going north, the (3)72 heads west, to the station at 148th. Riders can continue to Shoreline by taking the 333 further west. There is now coverage along 175th (via the 334) while the 336 and 348 go over 185th. Finally, the 333 runs along the county border, connecting the Mountlake Terrace Station with Aurora Village and Shoreline Community College.

Routes are Split Based on Demand

The 372 is split into two routes: The more frequent 72, and the less frequent 324. The 75 ends at Lake City, which means it is largely a coverage route for Sand Point Way. As a result, it is slated to run less often (30 minutes outside of peak). The 331 is more or less split into two, with the eastern half (the 334) running a lot less often than the western part (the 333).


Overall, I consider this a strong step in the right direction. I have ideas for changes, but I’ll make that another post (along with comments here). Survey ends March 10th.

News Roundup

This is an open thread.

Sunday News Roundup

This is an open thread.

The 12 after RapidRide G

This is a followup to my proposed bus restructure after RapidRide G. In that proposal, I struggled with the 12. The existing 12 overlaps the future G more than any other route; the only unique coverage area is on 19th Ave East, north of Madison.

I came up with several options for the route, each of which has its own map. As with previous maps, you can see a full size map by clicking on the corner. Once in its own window, you can select the route number on the sidebar, or the line itself to highlight the route.

The goals for each proposal remain the same. The expected frequencies are based on pre-pandemic levels, although most of these proposals would require a small increase in funding. The exception is the last proposal, which would be able to retain or increase frequency on each route, while also adding the new 106 extension.

Continue reading “The 12 after RapidRide G”

Bus Restructure after RapidRide G

RapidRide G will have a major impact on transit in the area, as the city implements what is arguably the first real BRT system in the state. No matter what you call it, having a bus that is both fast and frequent through the heart of the city will be a major change. It should also change the existing transit network. This is my proposal for doing that.

About the Map

As with previous maps, you can see a full size map by clicking in the corner. Once in its own window, you can select the route number on the sidebar, or the line itself to highlight the route. Care was taken to build the most realistic proposal I can muster (e. g. using existing layover locations) while trying to create an effective and efficient network. I tried to strike a balance between the existing network, and an “everywhere to everywhere” approach.

Eliminated Routes

4 — The eastern tail of the 4 is eliminated, largely because of East Link (which should occur at roughly the same time). The 4 provides direct service to downtown for riders who would otherwise have a two-seat ride. It serves other purposes (such as a one-seat ride for some trips to First or Cherry Hill) but runs infrequently. It can’t justify better service, even with one-seat riders from the Judkins Park neighborhood; it will have a tough time justifying service as those riders switch to Link. It is better to just end it, and put money into more productive routes.

11 — The 11 is replaced by the 8. Riders heading downtown from Madison Park can easily transfer to the G, Link, 10 or 12.

43 — Metro tried to get rid of the 43 back when the Capitol Hill station was added. Unfortunately, that lead to an outcry from people who were looking at an awkward transfer to go downtown (since the 11 was never very frequent). With this change, however, riders will be able to catch the 48 and then take a fast bus running every six minutes.

60 — Becomes part of the 49 (see below).

Modified Routes

2 — The 2 now serves the Pike/Pine corridor. Inbound (westbound) the bus largely takes over for the 11 (using existing stops and wire). Outbound, the bus stays on Pike longer, to avoid doglegging up to Pine, then doglegging again to cross Madison.

8 — The 8 becomes an east-west route, taking over the eastern tail of the 11.

12 — I struggled the most with the 12, and will actually suggest several alternatives in a future post. This is the default simply because it is most like the existing route. I would pair frequency with the 2 (e. g. 15 minutes on each) and synchronize the buses, to provide very good combined frequency on Pike/Pine west of Madison.

14 — The 14 is modified slightly towards its eastern tail, in conjunction with the 27. As a result, a little bit of service is added and a little bit is lost, while the main benefit is no more “out and back” travel on the 14.

27 — See 14 above.

37 — The 37 is a new coverage route to backfill service currently provided by the 8. The decision to offer service here is a close one (since riders can walk to other routes) but I think it is a good idea. By running opposite the 27, you can double up frequency along much of Yesler (an area that has been historically underserved). This provides some natural connections in the Central Area. For example it links Garfield High School with many of its students, as well as community services along Yesler.

47 — The 47 routing is the same, but I put it in this category because I want to increase its frequency (to around every 15 minutes midday). Right now it suffers from competition with the 49 (which runs a lot more often). With the 49 no longer going downtown, I expect good ridership on this route (as long as it has a decent headway).

49 — The 49 is sent to Beacon Hill instead of downtown. It takes a straight path, unlike the 60 it replaces. It would be paired with the streetcar to provide good frequency along Broadway (e. g. both could run every 12 minutes, providing 6 minute headways there). This in turn would eliminate the need for expensive express buses to First Hill (further saving service money). Combining the 60 with the 49 may result in a route that is too long. If so, the route would be split at Beacon Hill Station (with the 60 ending there, along with the 107).

106 — Provides long overdue service on Boren, connecting various neighborhoods.


I take a somewhat optimistic view on frequency, starting with the assumption that we can return to pre-pandemic levels of service (essentially what is the “before” part of the table listed on this post). I’ve done the math, and believe that even with Metro running the G often and the new additions, we can have good frequency for this area. Most routes would run 10 to 15 minutes during the day, with only the 14, 27 and 37 running every half hour. As mentioned, the 27 and 37 would combine frequency along much of Yesler, leaving only the eastern (lower density) extremities of the region with 30 minute headways. If funding can increase, then ridership should scale along with it, without any major changes.

If funding decreases, we might have to look at cutting back some routes. I would likely eliminate the 12, as painful as that would be (and productive as that route is). The section closer to downtown overlaps existing routes, while the tail on 19th is not that far from other routes. I believe this would do the least damage to the overall network (while gaining significant savings) even though it would definitely hurt. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

Phase 3 Northgate Link Bus Network Proposal

Metro is in Phase 3 of the North Link Connections Mobility Project.  Their proposed network is disappointing, but understandable. Instead of increased frequency, there are cuts (due to funding issues). This is my proposal based on their ideas.

About the Map

You can see a full size map by clicking in the corner. The map is interactive — the check boxes will display or hide different routes. I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible on the map, although buses on one-way streets are shown only in one direction.


Most of the buses follow Metro’s proposed routing, and most of those are unchanged. The 301 is the only two-way peak bus route. Every other “Peak Only” bus is peak direction.

There are four basic themes with my proposal:

  1. Consolidate routes as a way to increase frequency on corridors.
  2. Worry less about transfers, and more about frequency and speed.
  3. Trips — including those involving transfers — should be in the same basic direction.
  4. Express buses are truncated at Link stations to increase frequency.

New or Modified Routes

Peak Only:

64 — This will be truncated at the Roosevelt Park and Ride. This provides riders with a fast connection to Link. It is more cost effective than increasing frequency on the 65.

302 — This gives Richmond Beach riders a faster trip to Northgate, where it ends.

303 — Like Metro’s routing, except truncated at Northgate.

304 — This replaces the Shoreline Park and Ride section with the deleted part of the 302. As with all of the Shoreline changes, riders have faster alternatives to get to Northgate, and other ways of getting to Aurora Village.

312 — Truncated at Green Lake Park and Ride (like the 522). Side Note: I wish the 312 and 522 were reversed. The 312 (with more stops) should run all day, while the 522 (limited stop express) should only run during rush hour. But that is unlikely to happen without greater cooperation between the two agencies.

All Day Routes:

61 — This is a new bus, based on Metro’s previous proposal. I extend it all the way to 32nd Avenue NW. Crown Hill has plenty of density (and existing ridership) and this would connect to all of the north-south Ballard buses (the D, 28 and 40). Although the section between 15th and 32nd is pretty cheap, I would expect ridership to go down there. If layover space could be found at 15th, that would be ideal. If push comes to shove, then I could live with the layover in Greenwood. That would preserve the core of the 61 — a fast bus connecting Lake City, Northgate and Greenwood (with a connection to the E).

62 — This is a fairly simple change that allows for faster travel between Roosevelt and Wallingford/Fremont, the core of the route. If for some reason the bus can’t turn on 55th/56th, at the very least it should stay on 65th to Woodlawn. Even though there is only one bus through there, no one will have to walk far to catch it (and for many, it will be a lot more frequent). 

65 — This would run through campus both directions. I don’t have a strong preference for running through campus or by the Montlake triangle. If it is faster to run by the triangle, then do that. I just want the 65 and 75 (and to a lesser extent the 372) to serve the same stops whenever possible. That way someone trying to get to the U-Village, Children’s Hospital or Lake City can use the same bus stop, and have double the frequency.

67 — This combines the 67 and 73 for a faster, straighter, more frequent bus. As with any change, there is a trade-off. A small number of riders on 15th will have to walk a bit farther. It is harder to catch a bus from Maple Leaf to Northgate. But with the existing 67, very few people did that. This is understandable, since it is often faster to just walk, even if you are standing by the bus stop, and the bus is right there. Those that don’t want to walk can always make a transfer (to Link or a frequent set of buses).

In exchange, this would give a lot of people (north of Northgate Way) a  more frequent, fast, one seat-ride to Maple Leaf, Roosevelt and the UW. Combined with the 347/348, it gives a lot of those riders a more frequent, fast connection to Link. Most riders, of course, won’t notice the difference, but will appreciate better frequency on this, or other buses that come from combining these routes. 

The other change to the 67 is to combine service with the 45, between 45th and 65th. As much as I hate to abandon that part of the Roosevelt/12th corridor, we need more frequency on The Ave. It is a short walk (three or four minutes) from Roosevelt/12th to University Way. If the bus ran on Roosevelt/12th, those that are trying to connect to Link would have to walk most of those blocks anyway.

Deleted Routes:

26 — The existing 26 does not perform well through the preserved section. It carries fewer riders north of 45th than south of it. Nor is it essential for coverage. North of 65th, the 26 is never far from the 45 or 61. South of 65th, the new 62 covers most of the route. There is no reason to save what would be a low ridership, poor coverage route.

73 — The 67 replaces it.

322, 361 — Not needed. The 312 replaces service on SR 522 (to complement the 522) while the all-day 61 replaces the 361.

Service Levels

To get a rough idea of service levels, we can compare costs and savings versus Metro’s proposal. My proposal truncates 144 trips that would otherwise go to First Hill or South Lake Union. The 26 and 73 are gone. These service savings are put into the addition of the 61 . At worse the 61 would run only to Greenwood, but still have 15 minute all-day frequency. The 62 is a bit faster, while the 67 is a bit longer. Other changes are revenue neutral.

Ultimately it would lead to the type of network that Metro originally proposed, even if it doesn’t have the big increase in frequency we all want. If and when the funding situation improves, we will already have the buses in place to take full advantage of it.

Truncate Metro Buses After Northgate Link

Metro is in Phase 3 of the North Link Connections Mobility Project. They have proposed running several rush-hour buses past Link stations to First Hill and South Lake Union. This is a bad idea.

The Express Routes

Here is a listing of the express routes, and the number of trips each will take:

64 — Lake City, Wedgwood, Roosevelt, South Lake Union, Downtown (24 trips a day)
302 — Richmond Beach, Aurora Village, Northgate, First Hill (26 trips a day)
303 — Aurora Village, Northgate, First Hill (26 trips a day)
322 — Kenmore, Roosevelt, First Hill (37 trips a day)
361 — Kenmore, Roosevelt, South Lake Union, Downtown (31 trips a day)

All of the routes go by a Link station before heading over the ship canal. They only operate during rush-hour, when Link will be frequent. In many cases, these routes will spend more time getting to downtown than they do getting to Link. Since most of the riders will simply get off at Link, the ridership per hour will be far less than if the bus stopped at a station.

We can see today that the express buses generally don’t perform well. Even the buses that run to downtown Seattle lag other routes. The 372 performs better than the 312, and a lot better than the 309. The 65 and 75 dwarf the 64. It isn’t about total ridership, but ridership per hour. The 309 and 312 carry a lot of people, but those buses spend a lot of time getting to downtown, and traveling through it. It is much more efficient to just end the route at the station.

There are also issues with crowding. On some corridors (like Lake City Way) the buses are often full. It is common for riders to see a 522 or 312 go by before they can get on. Thus it is quite possible that many of the riders who want that one-seat ride to First Hill or South Lake Union will end up taking a 522 anyway. At that point, it isn’t clear if they get anything out of the express.

I don’t think there will be many riders that will transfer (or walk) to a bus headed to South Lake Union or First Hill. The main transfer point will be a Link station, where the train will be more frequent, and often faster. It would be crazy to take a train from the U-District up to Roosevelt or Northgate, just so you can catch a bus to First Hill, or South Lake Union. At best these buses perform similar to the existing 64 or 312 — subpar, and much worse than a truncated version of the same route.

I have no doubt that some riders will find these buses popular. I would like an express bus from my house to my work. But they simply aren’t cost effective, and make no sense when other service is being cut. It is hard to see why folks in Wallingford no longer have a fast one-seat ride to downtown Seattle (via the 26), but others avoid an easy transfer.

Link light rail will run frequently, and be able to carry plenty of riders. It doesn’t make sense to waste precious transit resources pretending it doesn’t exist. The money would be better spent increasing frequency in other parts of the network.