High Frequency Network Surrounding RapidRide G

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.

Bus Restructure for Lynnwood Link

I’ve come up with a few suggestions based on the latest proposal for Metro’s network following Lynnwood Link (P3). My goal was to improve the proposal while retaining as much of it as possible. As has been the case in the past, I’ve made a map to make it easier to understand the suggestions:

As with the previous maps, you can make it full page (in its own window) by selecting the little rectangle in the corner. Selecting individual routes highlights them, making them easier to see (with a short explanation as necessary). There are different “layers”, visible on the legend (to the left). For example, you can hide or display the routes that haven’t changed. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if there is any confusion.

I would not expect every suggestion to be implemented. I’ve listed each one in the order of importance, starting with the most important first:

65 and 77

The 65 is back to what was suggested in P2. The 125th/130th corridor is one of the most important in the area. Not only is it the fastest way for someone to get from Lake City to Link, but also the fastest way to get to Aurora and Greenwood Avenue. There are several reasons why making this corridor part of the 65 is better than the proposed 77:

  1. Avoids the awkward turn in Lake City mentioned previously.
  2. More bus stops in Lake City. The stops on the 65 manage to be within walking distance of almost all of the apartments in Lake City. In contrast, the proposed 77 only covers a subset of the area, before heading south on Lake City Way, leaving a significant gap in coverage. For example, this versus this. The 65 would provide a much shorter walk for a lot of people looking for the fastest way to Link (or Bitter Lake, Ingraham High School, Aurora, Greenwood, etc.).
  3. More one-seat connections. Both the P2 version of the 65 and the P3 version of the 77 serve Bitter Lake and Ingraham High. Connecting those areas to Nathan Hale High School, Wedgwood, Children’s Hospital, the U-Village and the east part of the UW adds a lot of value. In contrast, south of Lake City, the main destinations on the 77 are Roosevelt and the UW — areas served by Link. I don’t see too many people sitting through the hairpin set of turns to get from Roosevelt to Bitter Lake — they will simply take Link and transfer. The P3 version of the 77 appears to be two buses awkwardly glued together, whereas the P2 version of the 65 works for a lot more trips.
  4. Good match of frequency. The proposed 65 is not as frequent as the 72, but is still a lot more frequent than the 77 . While I feel that Lake City Way should have good frequency between Northgate Way and Roosevelt, it isn’t as important as the critical 125th/130th corridor. The frequency on the P2 version of the 65 is much better than the P3 version of the 77.

With the 65 being sent to Bitter Lake, the 77 can cover the area between Lake City and the station (30th, 25th, etc.). Northbound, the bus would turn left on 127th, then right on 30th. If 127th turns doesn’t work, then 130th might. Either way, it wouldn’t make a detour, like the proposed 77; there would be fewer turns, with the bus always headed the same basic direction. Going the other way, it is even faster, as it simply stays on 30th until it merges with Lake City Way.

348 Replacing 67

Most of the suggestions here are revenue neutral (or close to it). In this case though, the changes would save service hours. That is why I think it is so important. Most of the routes in the P3 proposal have very poor frequency. This change allows the buses to run more often, with no additional funding. This is critical if we are going to have a good transit system.

This comes with trade-offs, but rather minor ones. Some riders along the 15th NE corridor lose their one-seat ride to Northgate, but they gain a one-seat ride to Roosevelt and the U-District. The route complements buses like the 61 and 75 (which go to Northgate). It is a bit faster to get to Northgate Station instead of Roosevelt Station, but a large portion of the riders heading to Link will take crossing buses to 130th or 145th station anyway (or the 61 to Northgate). For those in between the major cross-streets, this still provides a fairly fast connection to Link (via Roosevelt) while providing a new one-seat connection for everyone along the corridor. The only significant loss is for people along 5th Avenue NE (between Northgate Way and 103rd). They lose their one-seat wrap-around ride to Maple Leaf, Roosevelt and the U-District. The alternative for those riders is to take a different bus and transfer or walk about five minutes and catch the same bus.

This change could be justified without the time savings. With the time savings, I believe it is critical.

72 and 333

This is a relatively minor change that could have very positive benefits. As of right now, Lake City is directly connected to Shoreline Community College (SCC) via the 330. While the bus does not run often, it performs quite well — in the top 25% of routes in rides per platform hour and passenger miles per platform hour, which is striking given its low frequency. This restores that one-seat connection, while providing other benefits.

The current 330 pathway is a faster connection between SCC and Link, while also getting lots of riders along the way. It is also the fastest way to get from Aurora to SCC. Someone from either end of Aurora (transferring via the RapidRide E) could get to the college much faster. Combining this section with the 72 is a better balance of frequencies. The 72 runs often (for good reason). In contrast, the 333 is not slated to run as often, and this looks to be the strongest section. By having the 72 operate this vital section, headways should be better (now, and in the future).

Under the current proposal, riders from the east can stay on the bus as it goes through SCC. My guess is very few would do that though. It simply takes too long for the bus to weave its way so far west, only to have it turn around and weave its way east. Shoreline Community College is a much better terminus.

345 and 365

Extending the 345 to SCC gives it a stronger anchor. The college is the second most popular stop for that line (second only to Northgate Transit Center). About 40% of the people who board at Four Freedoms head west (to get to SCC) not east (to get to the hospital and Northgate). This restores that connection.

With the 365, service is restored to most of Meridian. The section on 5th is basically an add-on (I don’t expect many riders to “round the horn” and take a bus from Meridian to 5th). Overall, the changes to the 345 and 365 would provide better coverage (and probably significantly more ridership) at little additional cost.

U-District Routing

I’ve largely ignored the subject of through-routing in the U-District. This is a tricky subject, with a lot of trade-offs. I don’t have access to the information (such as reliability data) that would allow me to make a more informed decision. In terms of frequency and total travel time, the 77-75 or 45-72 seem like possibilities. I don’t think the 348 could be through-routed with another bus, simply because it is long. Speaking of which, I also accept that there will be service on Roosevelt Way through the U-District, even though I could make a strong argument for consolidating service on The Ave (University Way). I don’t feel as strongly about that issue as I do the suggestions made on the map.

Deadline for comments is August 27. Please let Metro know what you think.

Bus Frequencies of Lynnwood Link Restructure Proposal

Along with route paths, the latest proposal for the bus network after Lynnwood Link includes the expected frequencies of each route. This is listed on the page for each individual route (e. g. the 45). Inspired by Davis Lawson’s excellent chart displaying the frequency of routes a few years ago, I made a similar chart for this restructure:

Route M-F PeakM-F MiddayM-F EveningM-F NightS/S MiddayS/S EveningS/S Night
331203030 60303060

As was mentioned previously, the 65 and 67 are through-routed (one bus becomes the other as it travels through the U-District). There are also a couple pairs of routes that will most likely combine for better effective headways. The 345 and 365 will probably run opposite each other from Northgate to Northwest Hospital; the 45 and 61 will probably run opposite each other on 85th. While there are plenty of other opportunities to combine headways (e. g. the 72 and 77 along Lake City Way) it doesn’t appear to be a priority.

Metro Updates Lynnwood Link Restructure Plans

Metro has released an updated bus restructure plan for Lynnwood Link. We wrote about the previous plan here, while also making various suggestions. Some of the proposal incorporates those suggestions, while there are other significant differences to the previous proposal.

Dealing with the 130th Station

The 130th Street Station is a major station from a restructure standpoint. From the very beginning, the argument for building it rested on serving areas along the corridor (Lake City, Pinehurst and Bitter Lake). There is currently no bus service along the full corridor, but it was a given once the station is complete. The problem is that the station won’t be complete until well after the other stations.

I’ve reached out to Metro and they’ve explained that the map represents the system after 130th Station is operating. The 77 (the only route serving the station) will be phased in, and may not exist at all when Lynnwood Link opens.


Another timing-related change is that the 522 will continue on its current route until East Link is complete. Previously the plan was to send the 522 to 145th once Lynnwood Link opened (to eventually be replaced by the S3, following much the same route). This again effects the timing of the proposal. It is likely that the 77 won’t exist when Lynnwood Link opens, and will then be implemented in two phases. The first phase (service along Lake City Way) would occur when East Link opens. The second phase (service connected to the 130th Station) would occur when that station opens. Since the map as well as the routes are based on life after the 130th Station, this write-up is as well.


Filling what was a fairly obvious coverage gap in the last restructure plan, Metro has decided to run a new bus along Lake City Way. As it turns out, this is the same 77 that runs along the 125th/130th corridor. This makes for an awkward connection between the two sections. Southbound (from Pinehurst to Roosevelt) it follows the standard automotive path (right on 30th). Northbound, the bus keeps going to 127th, then takes a left, then another left on 30th, followed by a right on 125th (like so). This will limit the options for trips from Lake City to 130th (the nearest station). The bus probably won’t be able to serve Lake City Way north of 125th, which means people will use the stop on 30th or the stop on 125th. It will also delay through-riders and add to the time it takes to complete the route. This (along with other choices) contributes to the overall low frequency of various routes. The 77 — primed to be the fastest connection to Link for a lot of people — is supposed to run 15 every minutes at best, and every 30 minutes evenings and weekends. There are other concerns I have with the route, but I’ll leave that for another article.

Infrequent Tails

Both the 65 and 348 have sections that will run less frequently. Based on feedback from Metro, the plan is to run them less frequently during peak. Service to Richmond Beach, for example, would likely occur every half hour, all the time. Speaking of which, when the 348 doesn’t go to Richmond Beach, it will layover somewhere on the loop shown on the map (labeled Richmond Highlands) then complete the loop as it heads towards the UW.


North of Northgate Way, there are three main transit streets: 130th, 155th and 185th. These streets avoid the worst of the traffic, and connect very well to the stations and the density on both sides. In contrast, 145th and 175th are used by a lot of cars that are simply trying to access the freeway. Thus it is puzzling that Metro has sent the frequent 333 on both. Between Shoreline Community College and Mountlake Terrace the pathway runs by very few people, no Link station, but a lot of cars. It provides a one-seat ride to the college (although for not that many people) and that is about it. Unless you are very close to the Mountlake Terrace Station, it doesn’t work for getting to Link.

Another odd aspect with the 333 is the apparent redundancy with the 77. The 77 does not go to Shoreline Community College, but loops around, serving the Linden area, east of Aurora, where there is a lot of density. But now the 333 also serves this area. The combination is rather awkward, as you have two frequent routes that go to Link, but they go different directions and to different Link stations. The routing would make some sense if there was significant density on 145th between Linden and the station, but there isn’t.

Another odd choice is to eliminate one of the better aspects of the previous 333. The old proposal for the 333 followed the 330 path from Shoreline Community College to the station. This involves making a dogleg on Aurora, extending coverage in one of the more densely populated parts of Shoreline while also avoiding the traffic of 145th. Service along 160th is gone, while an infrequent bus (the 345) connects 155th to Link.

More Frequent Service to Haller Lake

Metro has restored the current 345/346 pattern to Haller Lake (and the nearby hospital) where two infrequent buses combine for 15 minute headways from there to Northgate. This is an awkward route (as it loops around quite a bit, making for a very slow connection to Link) but just about any combination is bound to have issues. The new 345 restores service to Four Freedoms House, while the 365 turns on 145th to get over to 5th NE (passing by the 145th Station in the process).

Express Service to Downtown

The 322 from the last proposal is still around, while the current 303 is retained. This reduces the number of Metro buses over the Ship Canal Bridge from the current five (64, 302, 303, 320, 322) to two.

Through Routing

There is slightly different pairing in the U-District. The 45 is no longer through-routes with the 75, but terminates at the UW triangle (next to UW Station). The 75 & 77 would be paired instead.  Routes 65 & 67 would still be paired like today.

Other changes

The 75 retains its current routing connecting Lake City and Pinehurst to Northgate, with better weekday midday frequency than the previous proposal. The 331 restores coverage service to Hillwood (west of Aurora Village) while the current proposal (like the last one) leaves a big coverage hole in much of Meridian. The bus that runs from Aurora Village to Mountlake Terrace will run less often, while the bus going up 15th to Mountlake Terrace will run more often. The proposed 324 (Bothell to Lake City) is now gone, as is the current 342.

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.