Musings on the Capitol Hill restructure

Madison Park resident Reg N, after some discussion earlier this week where he vigorously objected to Metro’s Alternative 1 plan for extending the 8 to Madison Park in place of the 11, recently presented his own attempt at a restructure. (He later added that “there is an error on the map (hopefully corrected soon) the 11 will turn to E Pine at E Madison to Broadway and then south to Madison.”)

The newest feature of his plan is a “Most-of-Madison” route diverting to at least part of the main Capitol Hill business district. This seems to me a significant advantage over an all-Madison route skirting the south edge. The only disadvantage I see is in terms of speed – though, as usual, aggressive signal priority and reduction of parking could help.

Another very good proposal of this plan – which I think is its single best feature – is truncating the 8-North to Capitol Hill Station, rather than extending it to Madison Park. This would safely insulate everyone else from the Denny Disaster, given SDOT’s reluctance to consider innovative solutions such as restructuring the freeway entrances or building a gondola.

The less-satisfactory elements of this plan are focused around enabling everyone to access the one single Capitol Hill Station: restoring the 43, turning the 48-South to Capitol Hill Station (down John), and moving the 49 to 15th to replace the 10 (leaving no service on 12th). While they’re definitely not the optimal solution, their appearance here reminds us that long-distance station spacing can make it significantly harder to plan bus routes.

My new proposal would be:

  • Keep the 48-South as it is currently.  (Or, as it will be under Alternative One, with the 67 through-route.)
  • Truncate the 8-North to CHS.
  • Create an 11 going from Madison Park down Madison and Thomas-John to CHS, turning south on Broadway, and turning again to live-loop on Madison downtown. This basically merges the east part of Metro’s proposed 8 with the south part of Metro’s proposed 49.
  • This leaves the (north part of the) 49 truncated to CHS. If the First Hill Streetcar were a bus, the two could be through-routed – and given the slow delivery of vehicles, that might almost end up happening anyway! (This reminds us not to build rail along only part of a corridor.)  Assuming the streetcar is a streetcar, though, the 38 is a reliable-enough route for through-routing.
  • If we really want to restore something like the 43, it should be routed somewhere other than John and Olive, since that’s already served.  If I wanted to do that, I’d cut the tail of the 10 or 12 to Aloha, string trolley wire over to 24th, and extend that route to UW Husky Station.

People who’ve been paying attention to Alternative One are probably screaming “But the 49 will be at 10-minute frequency and the 38 at 15-minute!”  That is a problem, but turning back every third bus at CHS or Broadway and Madison – and letting another lay over for five minutes – can solve it.  Or, perhaps the other buses can be through-routed with the 60.

The 11 has room for 10-minute frequency without going over the Alternative One budget (ignoring the 43 idea), since all its corridors had 10-minute frequency there.  I might downgrade it to every-fifteen-minutes, to allow the 47 to be restored and the 3 to be upgraded to fifteen-minute frequency all the way out to Madrona.  But, then, all these musings are more or less moot until we see where Seattle decides to spend its Proposition One money.