Page Two articles are from our reader community. Sign up for an account.

Alternative alignments for Route 32

A while back I posted a Route 32 restructure having it go through central Queen Anne instead of Interbay because I felt the Interbay portion duplicated the D Line too much. However, people wanted it to go until at least 15th/Dravus so that it keeps the 15-minute frequency with Route 31 between U District and 15th. I came up with a couple other alternatives below. Here is a map of the alternatives: https://drive.google.com/open?id=10P2xFaf-hcsKM0WP2eSHr20uZ20&usp=sharing

Kinnear

South of Dravus, Route 32 will run like Route 1. A drawback of this is that Route 1 is a trolley route, and it would be a waste of trolley wire if a diesel route is operated full time on roads with trolley wire.

28th Ave W

West of 15th/Dravus, Route 32 will take Dravus, 22nd, Gilman, Govt. Way, and 28th Ave W to Downtown Magnolia.

34th Ave W

West of 15th/Dravus, Route 32 will take Dravus, 22nd, Gilman, Govt. Way, and 34th Ave W to Downtown Magnolia.

Dravus/Emerson

West of 15th/Dravus, Route 32 will take Dravus, 28th, Tilden, 30th, and Emerson to Discovery Park.

Expanding Link

Sound Transit plans to expand the Link system with new lines to Ballard and West Seattle and extensions to existing lines. I like many of these ideas, but I also have ideas for other lines, as well as some changes to the already planned lines. I will divide this post into different lines. Here is a map of my proposed Link system: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nBYvhYMteQDSepINtLnV9nfzVlA&usp=sharing

West Seattle Line

The West Seattle Line will run south of Downtown with the following stations:

Stadium
SODO
Delridge
Avalon
Alaska Junction
Morgan Junction
Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal
Westwood Village
White Center
Burien TC (Maybe, but there should probably also be some infill stations)

Northwest (Ballard) Line

The Northwest Line will run north of Downtown with the following stations:

Westlake
Denny
South Lake Union
Seattle Center
Smith Cove
Interbay
Market St
NW 65th St
Crown Hill (NW 85th St/15th Ave NW)

Fremont Line

I think there should be a line running to Fremont. I would prefer this over a 40 RapidRide. In fact, I wish the Ballard line would go through Fremont, but ST3 already has the Ballard line going through Interbay.

The Fremont Line will run north of Downtown with the following stations:

Westlake
Denny
South Lake Union
Queen Anne (if it’s physically possible)
Fremont

Northeast Line

The Northeast Line is the line that currently goes to University of Washington and will be later extended to Northgate and Lynnwood.

East Line

The East Line is the line that will go to Bellevue, Overlake, and Redmond. I like the plan Sound Transit has.

SeaTac Line

I think the Tacoma extension would make sense, though if it goes north of Downtown Seattle, it would result in a line about 40 miles long. That wouldn’t be too bad though. It could be through-routed with my Fremont Line.

Route Names

A while back there was a post by Joseph Story on a possible naming scheme for the Link system. I find his ideas pretty interesting, so you guys should read his post.

https://seattletransitblog.com/2017/08/03/integrated-labeling-scheme-for-link/

In my map, I have color-coded the lines. I avoided green and blue because those are being used for the Swift BRT. However, I think there should be some other kind of naming system for Link, maybe by direction, such as Northeast-Southwest.

Link Phasing Map

Greetings Northwestern friends from Southern California. I’m a transit planner based in Los Angeles, but a longtime follower of Seattle planning issues and reader of this blog. I’m writing today to share an animated map I made showing the planned phases of Link implementation.

http://calurbanist.com/wp-content/uploads/seattle_metro.gif

Sound Transit could never make this map, obviously, because it does not show Tacoma Link. But I can.

Higher-res versions of the full buildout map are available here: http://calurbanist.com/seattle-future-light-rail/

North Seattle Restructure after Lynnwood Link

I feel like there are too many zigzagging bus routes in North Seattle, the best example being the 345. I think there should be more of a grid system in North Seattle.

Proposal (North Seattle)

Routes to be deleted: 41, 77, 345, 347, 348

Routes heavily modified: 73

Routes 40 and D Line will swap routings north of NW 85th St. This means that Route 40 will terminate at Carkeek Park, while D Line runs via Northgate Way. The D Line will be extended to Lake City, still doing the deviation to NSCC and Northgate TC.

Instead of running to Northgate, Route 75 will run via 125th, Roosevelt, and 130th to 130th/Greenwood.

Route 65 will be extended west to 145th/Greenwood via N 145th St. Between 125th St and 145th St, it will run via 35th Ave NE and Lake City Way instead of 30th Ave NE.

Route 345 will be discontinued. Route 346 will run at 15-minute frequency, and it will through-route with Route 352 at Northgate TC.

Route 73 will be extended north to Mountlake Terrace TC via 15th Ave NE, NE 196th St, 19th Ave NE, and 56th Ave W. It will be renumbered 377, and it will run at 15-minute frequency. This is similar to Route 347, except more straight. Route 347 will be discontinued.
Alternative to above proposal: if people prefer connection to Northgate over a full 15th route, then Route 347 could be straightened like my proposed 377, and the current 73 can stay as it is now.

A new route will run like Route 348 between Richmond Beach and 5th Ave NE/NE 185th St, then take NE 185th St, 10th Ave NE, NE 180th St, 15th Ave NE, NE 175th St, and 5th Ave NE to Northgate TC. On weekdays it will deviate to 1st Ave NE between 130th St and 145th St to serve Lakeside School. This route will be numbered 352, and it will run at 15-minute frequency. It will through-route with Route 346 at Northgate TC.

Between 1st Ave NE and 5th Ave NE, Route 330 will deviate to NE 145th St to serve the Link station. Route 330 will also run at 30-minute frequency all 7 days a week.

Route 372 will be extended to Woodinville like Route 522, the way the original 372 ran before the March 2016 restructure. It will run on its full route all 7 days a week.

Other Changes

Routes 31 and 32 will run both directions on NE Pacific St and terminate at Husky Stadium. They will no longer through-route with Route 75. Route 75 will through-route with Route 45 instead. To accommodate this through-routing, Route 45 will deviate from University Way to Brooklyn Ave between 47th St and 45th St in order to serve the Brooklyn Station, and on 15th Ave between 45th St and Stevens Way.

Routes 65 and 67 will run in both directions on Stevens Way. They will also run via 45th St instead of Campus Pkwy.

At all times, Route 62 will run on both directions on NE 65th St. During nights and weekends, it will loop at Radford Dr.

Route 44 will run to Children’s Hospital instead of Husky Stadium.

Maps

45: https://goo.gl/maps/BGSS52uaDKs

65: https://goo.gl/maps/kADFRYWaoRp

75: https://goo.gl/maps/SQXsbM4tHrB2

352: https://goo.gl/maps/VLjyzWx4TpE2

377: https://goo.gl/maps/CwNz5uaUFst

D Line: https://goo.gl/maps/SUFGo25kM9P2

What’s in a reroute?

Every year the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge closes for the Blue Angels performance. As one of only four ways around Lake Washington, the closure hugely impacts the region’s transportation system. It is a safety zone mandated by the FAA to “keep the public and pilots safe and to minimize distractions.” The bridge closures take place midday on weekdays and weekends, and causes 1.5 mile backups, while affecting the two all-day routes over I-90.

These two routes–both Metro-operated Sound Transit routes 550 and 554–miss two stops: The Rainier flyer stops and Mercer Island Park & Ride. It is impossible to serve the Rainier flyer stops during the closure, as the stops can only be accessed from the bus-only express lanes in the center of I-90, and the next accessible exit is on the other side of the bridge that is closed. Luckily, routes 7 and 106 provide a frequent (though not as quick) connection from Downtown to the Rainier flyer stop.

According to data from Sound Transit’s 2017 Service Implementation Plan, Mercer Island passengers account for 10-11% of route 550’s average ridership and 4-7% of route 554’s average ridership. The SIP numbers suggest that about 60-85% of riders originating at Mercer Island are headed towards Seattle.

Neither Metro nor ST were able to provide me with stop-level data, but unofficial ridership numbers show that route 550’s weekday demand drops sharply after about 9:15 and doesn’t pick back up until mid-afternoon. Much of route 550’s demand on Mercer Island centers around parking availability at the 447 stall Park & Ride, so once the lot is full, ridership originating at that stop drops. Weekend ridership is across the board making it difficult to draw conclusions.

Almost two thirds of route 550’s Bellevue ridership uses the three stops in Bellevue’s downtown core; if ridership from the recently-closed South Bellevue Park & Ride is excluded that number jumps to almost 80%.

Despite the majority of the ridership not going to Mercer Island, Metro has designed their reroutes to prioritize Mercer Island ridership. After leaving the tunnel, the route heads over SR-520 (the only logical choice) and sails past Bellevue in order to reach a connection in southern Bellevue to connect to a temporary Metro shuttle. From there it continues on its normal route, albeit on a much delayed schedule. In 2016 and 2017 I inadvertently timed it just right so that I was able to catch a rerouted trip. The reroutes were slightly different each year.

Route 550 Reroutes

Blue: Normal route; Red: Common reroute; Black: 2016 reroute; Green: 2017 route

2016’s reroute was slightly more sensible, but due to the closure of the South Bellevue Park & Ride for East Link construction this was no longer possible in 2017. In 2016, the route used the Bellevue Way ramp from SR-520 and ran without stops between SR-520 and South Bellevue Park & Ride. At the Park & Ride, the bus was able to make a U-turn through the park & ride and continue to/from its normal route. Despite vocal objections from riders, the operator didn’t make any stops in Bellevue while continuing to/from 520.

In 2017, the same route wasn’t possible and the route was extended even further to Eastgate Park & Ride to connect to the Mercer Island shuttle. From Eastgate, the route continued to/from Bellevue Way via I-90 to its regular route.

I asked Metro why stops couldn’t have been made in reverse order, and King County’s Scott Gutierrez explains:

The ST 550 reroute also was seen as the most efficient and least confusing for customers and operators. For customers, this reroute essentially maintained the usual sequence in terms of stops (other than the I-90 stops). Making the Bellevue stops in reverse order would have been very challenging to communicate to customers. For operators, this option allowed them to use an established layover location with access to comfort facilities.

The operator I spoke to mentioned that he didn’t have any access to the comfort station and was running his trip late as a result.

Having a chance to reflect on this, I’ll agree that running in reverse order isn’t the best solution. However, there is a solution that would allow operators adequate layover time, provide access to all regular stops outside Seattle, and prioritize the highest ridership routes.

Similar to Zach’s idea to permanently move route 550 to SR-520, the reroute could be changed to serve Bellevue immediately, with the Mercer Island shuttle connecting in Downtown Bellevue and serving Bellevue Way riders. The rerouted trip could end at the existing layover space next to the Bellevue Library or at the Bellevue Transit Center before looping back to the library. This means the operator of the 550 would likely have a much longer layover, as any delays from 520 would be more than offset by the truncation of the route. However, this means that the Mercer Island/Bellevue Way shuttle would have much higher platform hours. The connection in Bellevue could be made in a “bump and run& fashion–as both routes serve the same stop, and once passengers deboard from one route and board the second, each leaves, ensuring a seamless transfer for all.

There is no doubt that closing off any part of a route is going to cause delays, inconvenience riders, and cause confusion–even if no stops are missed. Despite costing more to implement, it prioritizes the locations where the most riders are headed.

Southeast Seattle Restructure

Since 2009, transit in Skyway has been pretty much the same, other than improved frequency on Route 106. Before that, the part of Skyway close to Lake Washington had some bus service, but in 2009 that was removed. In my post I discuss some ways to improve transit in Skyway.

Metro has a plan to combine Routes 49 and 36 and run them through First Hill instead of Downtown. This plan has received much criticism because many Beacon Hill residents use Route 36 to go to the International District, and the plan would cut off that connection. In this post I discuss a bit on First Hill-Southeast Seattle connections.

The September 2016 service restructure modified Route 106 to run like the old Route 42 between Rainier Beach and Downtown. Many people have criticized this new routing for duplicating Route 7 between Mt Baker TC and Downtown. I change up the routing for Route 106 a bit so it is less duplicative.

In this post, I refer to Southeast Seattle as the part of Seattle east of I-5 and south of McClellan. I split up the post into categories I mentioned above.

Routing Changes within Rainier Valley/Beacon Hill

South of Cloverdale, Routes 7 and 9 will swap routings. This means that Route 7 will run to Rainier Beach Station, and Route 9 will run to Prentice St.

South of Massachusetts, Route 8 will run via Massachusetts and 23rd to Judkins Park station instead of taking MLK to Mt Baker TC. Also, Route 8 will go straight on MLK instead of deviating to 23rd between Yesler and Jackson.

South of Massachusetts, Route 48 will run via Massachusetts and MLK to Mt Baker TC.

A new Route 52 will connect West Seattle, Georgetown, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, and Seward Park. Instead of going via Sylvan Way, Route 128 will run via 16th Ave SW and Genesee to Alaska Junction, and it will not run to North Admiral. Route 22 will be extended to Seacrest Park via California to replace Route 128 in North Admiral. Route 52 will run at 30-minute frequency.

Route 38 (not the MLK one, but the McClellan one) will be restored. It will be extended to Columbia City Station via Hunter Blvd, 38th Ave S, and S Alaska St to replace the 14 tail to Hanford St. It will be operated using vans, and will run at 30-minute frequency.

Route 36 will through-route with Route 70 in Downtown. Frequencies on Route 70 will be upgraded to match those of Route 36.

Routing Changes within Skyway

Route 101 will run to Rainier Beach instead of Downtown. It will run at 15-minute frequency all 7 days a week. It will through-route with Route 169 at Renton TC. Route 102 will remain as it is now.

Route 107 will be split into two routes: Routes 105 and 108. Route 105 will run like Route 107 between Beacon Hill and Rainier View, but then go on Langston Rd to Renton TC. Route 108 will run like Route 107 between Renton TC and Cornell Ave, then take Cornell Ave, Rainier, Seward Park, and Othello to Othello Station.

First Hill-SE Seattle Connections

Instead of running via Jackson to International District, Route 106 will run via Boren and Fairview to South Lake Union.

The First Hill Streetcar will be discontinued. Instead of going via Pine, Route 49 will run to International District via Broadway, Boren, 12th, and Jackson, laying over at 2nd/Main. The South Lake Union Streetcar will terminate at the yard at Dearborn.

North of Jackson, Route 60 will take 12th, Yesler, 14th, Pine, 15th, and John to Capitol Hill Station, then take Broadway to the current 9 terminus at Aloha.

Between Jackson and John, Route 9 will run via 12th instead of Broadway, and will terminate at the current 60 terminus at Mercer. It will also run to Prentice St instead of Rainier Beach Station.

Maps

Route 38: https://goo.gl/maps/gad35oknpr62

Route 49: https://goo.gl/maps/BeHtFMXu6e82

Route 60 (north of Beacon Hill): https://goo.gl/maps/6KKzF6qGQDG2

Route 52: http://bit.ly/2odjINS

Route 128: http://bit.ly/2pQIMtQ

Route 105: https://goo.gl/maps/7RP7abjLXFP2

Route 108: https://goo.gl/maps/E6nQwZm2bEM2

Seattle Gondola Network

Here’s my dreamy map: a handful of potential alignments for a Seattle Gondola Network.

Gondolas are regularly used as hypothetical transit solutions in Seattle – they have specific advantages suited for a city filled with the natural barriers of hills, lakes, and highways. They’re also cheaper and faster to build than subways or other grade separated transit. That said – it’s certainly not the solution to most transit needs, and some of the lines could definitely be suited better by a subway or true BRT (Ballard -> UW).

I’ve seen a handful of proposals, but never a handful of Seattle gondola lines laid out in a network. So I curated some of my favorite ideas and added some new ones.

For a gondola line to make sense it must:

  1. Cross a barrier that cannot be served efficiently by another form of transit
  2. Obviously, connect high traffic destinations
  3. Not demand the ridership/capacity of a rail line

I’m imagining all lines built with 3S technology (variable station distance, detachable grips, <30 second waits, and 20-30 passenger cabins.) All route times are estimated at a speed of 15mph with a 30-second layover per station – although there may be additional uncalculated time penalties for turns. Speaking of turns, I’m sure some routes have straighter more efficient alignments – especially if you don’t restrict lines to street ROW. This will make things faster and cheaper. Considering every turn requires tower infrastructure comparable to a station, strategic placement of turns and stations will reduce cost and overhead.

Here are the lines, there are some obvious redundancies, but I think SLU, UQA, Boren, Pine, and Jefferson all make sense as transit alternatives and together build a network. The rest range from interesting to kinda dumb.

SLU: This is the alignment that Seattle should be funding and planning right now. The simplest iteration goes Seattle Center->SLU->Broadway. it connects three high ridership/dense destinations and provides additional coverage for the 8. Turning a 45-minute gridlock bus ride into a consistent 7-minute sky cruise. This connection could happen on a number of East-West streets through SLU (I mapped it on two) and could be extended from LQA all the way to Madison. This would also complement our Streetcar network by turning it into a loop, connecting the SLU and First Hill lines (especially if an extension down 1st to LQA is built). 

Upper Queen Anne: This line is a little sloppier, but probably provides the second most useful alignment. Starting at the Zoo it works it’s way to Fremont/SPU then UQA and ends at Seattle Center. Upper Queen Anne has little opportunity for grade separated transit outside of a gondola line. 

Boren: This line builds the network’s backbone. Connecting all the other downtown proposals together it provides a ride from the (future) Judkins Park station to First Hill to SLU. Although Boren is a street that could potentially be covered by BRT/Streetcar – traffic and grade create reliability challenges that a gondola can easily conquer. It also provides an opportunity to build a connection station in the new Convention Center and meet the Pine line.

Jefferson: Starting at the Ferry terminal this line travels to the Pioneer Square station, up to Harborview, then over towards SU and finally Swedish. It covers one of the steepest downtown streets and two hospitals. A James/Cherry alignment might also make sense- sacrificing a Yesler connection for a better SU station. I could also see adding an additional station on 5th.

Pine: This line connects some big hitters – waterfront, Westlake, Convention Center, Cap Hill, and makes way more sense than this proposal. A Pine line definitely caters towards tourism but also has opportunities to serve a pretty pragmatic transit function.

Yesler: This line was covered here. It’d be competitive with the Streetcar – with the exception of no ID connection.

Magnolia Connector: Only If Magnolia goes through substantial rezoning and the village becomes a true dense urban village, will this line have cost-effective ridership. But connecting the Magnolia Village to the future Ballard/WestSeattle light rail (and current D line) –  and to UQA then Aurora hugely improves reliable transit connections to otherwise isolated housing pockets.

Mercer SLU alt: This is pretty much the same SLU line but with less demand, the only advantage being a straiter alignment. And a gondola from the shore of Lake Union up to Roy/Broadway would have great views.

Ballard to UW: Really should just be a subway line. 

UW connector: Don’t see this ever happening – not sure if the ridership would ever justify the investment plus UW would never ruin their Red Square to Rainier views. Also – if a Ballard/UW subway is ever built and 520 is chosen as a lake crossing – it’s easy to see this same Ave/Uvillage/Stadium/520 triangle covered with rail.

If you click a line the mileage and travel time estimate will pop up, it’s fun to compare with driving and transit options (especially at rush hour).

Please critique and/or suggest new lines.

Van Routes

There are certain corridors in Seattle that deserve service, but the roads are not suitable for buses. There are also other routes in Seattle with very low ridership, but the demand is high enough to keep a route there. I have come up with a few corridors where van routes would be nice. If needed, some of these routes can become DART routes.

32nd Ave NW

32nd Ave NW is suitable for buses, but midday and weekend ridership was rather low. For a long time, this corridor was served by the all-day Route 17, which was replaced by Route 61 in 2012. Due to low ridership, Route 61 was discontinued in 2014. Right now there is only the peak-only Route 17 serving this corridor. I would restore Route 61 as a van route, but terminate it at 15th/Market instead of doing the weird loop in South Ballard. Route 61 will run at 30-minute frequency during the day, all 7 days a week.

NW 65th St

Currently, the only East-West corridors in Ballard are Market and NW 85th St. I think there should be something in between. A NW 65th St bus would be good for connecting Ballard residents to Ballard High School, the Phinney Ridge shopping district, and Green Lake. An extension to Golden Gardens via Seaview would be nice too. I would put a van route on NW 65th St between 36th Ave NW and Aurora, and I would number it as Route 68. Route 68 will run at 30-minute frequency during off-peak, and 15-minute frequency during peak in both directions to serve students of Ballard High School.

NE 55th St and Laurelhurst

NE 55th St is suitable for buses, but the streets in Laurelhurst are very narrow. Before 2014, NE 55th St had bus service all 7 days a week, and before 2016, Laurelhurst had weekday bus service. Now NE 55th St only has the peak only Route 74, and Laurelhurst has nothing in its south part. I think both of these corridors deserve all-day service. I would put a van on this route, and I would number it 79. To free up service hours and to reduce duplication, I would delete Route 78. Route 79 will run at 30-minute frequency during off-peak, and 15-minute frequency during peak.

S McClellan St

Who remembers Route 38? Not the one on MLK, but the one on McClellan. Many people used it to travel between Beacon Hill and Mt Baker before Link opened, but then people moved to Link. I think Route 38 would be good for Beacon Hill residents living on the hill on McClellan. I would restore Route 38 as a van route, but I would also extend it to Columbia City Station via McClellan, Mt Rainier Dr, Hunter Blvd, 38th Ave S, and S Alaska St to replace the Route 14 tail to Hanford St. Route 38 will run at 30-minute frequency during the day, and at 60-minute frequency at night to serve people who would usually take Link between Beacon Hill and Mt Baker. If needed, night trips can also go to International District.

SW California Ave (Route 22)

Route 22 has had rather low ridership for a long time. I think it would be a good van route. I think Route 22 could also be extended to Seacrest Park to replace Route 128 in North Admiral so that there would be a bus going on the whole length of California. Route 22 will run at 30-minute frequency during off-peak, and 15-minute frequency during peak in both directions to serve students at Chief Sealth High School and West Seattle High School. All peak trips should be operated using regular buses, maybe even articulated buses if needed.

Mercer St and Aloha St

Mercer St and Aloha St have never had true bus service. I think there should be a van route serving Mercer and Aloha. This route would have two disadvantages: traffic on Mercer and not serving Capitol Hill Station. But I think such a route could possibly relieve some congestion on Route 8. I would number the Mercer/Aloha route as Route 42 (sounds rather familiar, but it’s been gone for some time now, so it’s fine)

Maps

Map of van route system: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1EnAFcULlO8Sou0cz0t9o2d8UhEE&usp=sharing

Integrated Labeling Scheme for Link

I was discussing the looming labeling problem for Link with my friend, Scott. I was explaining to him how Metro’s RapidRide uses letters and how Community Transit uses colors. I mentioned that this could create confusion, as the RapidRide signature red color creates confusion with a proposed red line labeling for ST’s Link, and how having Community Transit’s color-coded lines will lead to confusion for the eventual ST green and blue Link line labeling. Scott noted that he was recently in London and that don’t use colors at all; they label each rail line with a name.

I reviewed what other systems do. In the US, the most popular among new systems is the use of colors. For example, there are Blue Lines in places like Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Atlanta and Washington DC, like what Sound Transit has proposed.

A few systems rely on numbers or letters. Denver uses letters. Paris uses both (numbers for city lines and letters for the regional rail system). New York uses both (a legacy of the days when the subways were owned and operated by multiple companies). Along with London, Tokyo and Vancouver have labels for each of their lines.

As reflected in these numerous examples, there is no standard way to define lines. Even in cases where one primary scheme exists (such as colors), there can be primary and secondary references (numbers or letters) often applied to each line.

Choosing Label Names

If we did choose label names, I wondered would be the best labels. There are many ways to choose label names. My scheme begins with two additional principles that could be applied to line labels that could enhance the messaging:

1. Choose a label that implies an obvious primary color. In this way, the name can be interchangeable with other signage that riders would see, and respect the current ST approach of using colors.

2. Choose a label that would lead to alphabetized lines. While not as important as a color linkage, this would provide riders with one more way to interpret the order of the lines.

In other words, rather than have to choose, Sound Transit could adopt an integrated labeling strategy that would allow for users to identify lines in several ways! I have even created an initial suggestion for labels based on this idea. The ordinal letters, colors combined with symbols could make it particularly clearer for non-English speaking travelers, kids and others who can’t yet read English well.

My Initial Labeling Scheme

Red Line. Line letter: A. Label name: Apple Line. Specific color: Medium/dark red (as a red delicious apple). Symbol: an apple. An apple is often associated with red.

Tacoma Link. Line letter: B. Label name: Bear Paw Line. Specific color: Medium brown (as a grizzly bear). Symbol: a bear’s paw. Curiously, Tacoma Link has not been slated for a line color; it may be useful to do this for a number of reasons. Bears are often associated with brown.

Blue Line. Line letter: C. Label name: Cascadia Line. Specific color: Sky Blue (as a sky color above the silhouette from the Cascades). Symbol: snow-covered mountains (Mt. Si or Mt. Rainier?) against sky. The term Cascadia has often been used in local slang.

Green Line. Line letter: D. Label name: Duwamish Line. Color: Bright Green (perhaps similar to the color of Sounders, Seahawks and evoking a green river). Synbol: native American symbol or silhouette as appropriate. Since our region was home to the Duwamish tribe including Chief Sealth; honoring their legacy is wholly appropriate.

Fifth Line. Line letter: E. Label name: Eagle Line. Color: Darker gray (as in bald eagle feathers). Symbol: an eagle’s head or body. With major colors already assigned; the next label can be flexible on color choice. Honoring the many eagles in our region seems a good label for “E”.

I’ve devised even more initial line labels using these same principles.

 F — Forest Line, with dark green. Symbol: tall evergreen trees in a forest

 G — Grapevine Line, with darker purple. Symbol: grape bunch attached on a vine

 H — Husky Line, with gold (UW color). Symbol: a husky head

 I — Independence Line, with navy blue (US flag color). Symbol: a star

 J — Jazz Line, with black (piano keys or sheet music staff). Symbol: a grand piano, a keyboard or notes

There are merely initial labels, colors and symbols. I would suggest that ST create a professional artistic process using seasoned marketing professionals and trademark attorneys to develop great proper labels. Still, I do think there is quite a lot of merit in developing a labeling scheme like this one for a multi-line system in our multi-operator transit region.

Modifying the Paint Scheme

Since about 1997, Metro has used this paint scheme with a yellow bottom, black middle, and blue, teal or green top. Later Metro added a red top for RapidRide and a purple top for trolleybuses, but the other diesel buses still don’t seem to have any color-coding. The new battery-electric buses seem to all have blue tops, so I think Metro should do something about this color-coding. I have a proposal below:

Blue: battery-electric
Green: diesel or hybrid (the diesel-only buses are being phased out)
Teal: DART
Purple: trolleybus
Red: RapidRide

Downtown Restructure

There are many express bus routes that go from Downtown Seattle to other places around the city. I feel like some of these routes are not too necessary, and instead there should be a single frequent express route to that area instead.

The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel is expected to be closed to buses in 2019. This means that many buses will have to go on the Downtown streets. Metro has a couple plans, but I came up with some alternatives.

Route 99 is expected to end soon due to construction of the Center City Connector on 1st Ave, so Metro should make use of some of the stops. The Center City Connector construction is only between Stewart and Jackson, so the stops north of Stewart are still available.

Removing Express Routes

SR-520 routes (other than one or two peak expresses) will instead run north to the University of Washington station at Husky Stadium, laying over elsewhere in that area.

Instead of going to Downtown, Route 125 will run like Route 50 between Delridge and Alaska Junction. A peak-only Route 125X will run to Downtown along the current 125 routing.

Route 101 will be discontinued. Routes 148 and 169 will be extended to Rainier Beach via Sunset Blvd, MLK, and Henderson. Routes 148 and 169 will each run at 30-minute frequency all 7 days a week, providing combined 15-minute service on MLK between Rainier Beach and Renton. Route 102 will still serve Downtown, possibly with some additional peak trips.

When Northgate Link opens, Route 41 will run only between Northgate and Lake City.

Changing Through-Routes

Routes that will no longer have through-routes: 1, 5, 24, 26, 28, 33, 124, 131, 132. Check the section on New Downtown Terminals to see where they would terminate in Downtown.

Routes that will receive through-routes: 40, 70 (see Other Changes section)

Route 2S will always through-route with Route 13. Route 1 will be extended to replace Route 2N on 6th Ave W, terminating at the former Route 4 loop in East Queen Anne.

New Downtown Terminals

Routes Coming from South

Instead of terminating in South Lake Union, RapidRide C will terminate at the current 99 stop at Elliot/Broad, using Broad and Cedar to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Instead of going to International District via Jackson, Route 106 will run to South Lake Union via Boren and Fairview, terminating at the old RapidRide C layover spot.

Route 124 will layover at the current northbound 99 stop at 1st/Cedar, using Wall and Cedar to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Route 150 will layover at the current northbound 99 stop at 1st/Lenora, using Lenora and Blanchard to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Route 120 will layover at the current southbound 99 stop at 1st/Lenora, using Lenora and Virginia to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Routes 131 and 132 will layover at the current southbound 99 stop at 1st/Wall, using Cedar and Battery to travel between 1st and 3rd avenues.

Route 550 will run like Route 554 in Downtown.

Route 102 will run like Route 190 in Downtown.

Routes Coming from North

Route 5 will terminate at the current 70 layover spot at Main St.

Route 62 will stay on 3rd Ave until Jackson, then go on Jackson and terminate at the 99 layover spot on 8th/King.

Routes 24, 26, 28, and 33 will go to Ryerson Base.

Since Route 14 will be through-routed with Route 70 (see Other Changes section), Route 1 will run to Atlantic Base with a few stops along Airport Way.

Route 41 will run like Route 522 in Downtown.

Route 74 will run like Route 76 in Downtown.

Frequency Changes

Routes 11, 120, 124, and 150 will run at 15-minute frequency all 7 days a week.

Route 47 will run at 15-minute frequency during peak hours, and 30-minute frequency at all other times.

Route 4 will run peak-only between Downtown and Mt Baker TC, operating as an express along Jefferson. It will no longer be a trolley route. Route 3 will run at 15-minute frequency all 7 days a week.

Routes 26 and 28 will no longer be coordinated to provide 15-minute service on Aurora. Aurora already has frequent service with the E Line and Route 5.

Other Changes

Route 27 will move to Jackson between Downtown and 31st Ave S, and it will be renumbered 25. The current route 27 will remain as a peak-only route. Route 14 (and Route 70) will temporarily become diesel routes while wire is placed to Leschi so that Route 25 can be electrified. Routes 14 and 25 will each run at 30-minute frequency, providing 15-minute frequency along Jackson. They will be through-routed with Route 70. Pretty soon, Route 48 will be a trolley route, so the vehicles currently assigned to Routes 14 and 70 will be used on Route 48. After the Leschi wire is completed and Metro receives more vehicles, Routes 14, 25, and 70 will be electrified again.

RapidRide D and Route 40 will swap routings north of NW 85th St. This means RapidRide D will terminate at Northgate TC, and Route 40 will terminate at Carkeek Park. Route 40 will be through-routed with Route 21.

Route 49 will run via Madison/Marion instead of Pike/Pine. Route 12 will run during peak periods only, and Route 60 will be extended to Interlaken Park to replace Route 12 along 19th. I know people might say this 49 rerouting would be redundant to the future Madison BRT, but I think by the time Madison BRT opens, Routes 49 and 36 will be combined into one route running through First Hill.

Transit to Alki Beach

Mike Orr brought up in my West Seattle restructure post that Alki Beach is underserved. I definitely agree with this. The roads to Alki Beach are not particularly difficult to navigate, but it is only served by the infrequent 50 and the peak-only 56. There is also the Water Taxi to Seacrest Park, but it doesn’t run enough to actually be considered a way to get to Alki Beach. I think there should be a frequent route to Alki Beach.

Currently, Routes 50 and 128 are coordinated to provide 15-minute service on California between Alaska Junction and Admiral Way. I find this a little strange, considering these routes are completely different. Route 128 runs straight to North Admiral while Route 50 goes west to Alki Point. Metro has a RapidRide route between Alki Point and Alaska Junction in its 2040 plan, but I think there needs to be a better solution in the meantime. I have come up with a proposal:

Route 128 will run to Alki Point instead of North Admiral. Route 50 will be upgraded to 30-minute frequency on Sundays. Routes 50 and 128 will be coordinated to provide combined 15-minute service between Alki Point and Alaska Junction.

Route 22 will be extended to Seacrest Park via California to replace Route 128 in North Admiral. It will be coordinated to provide efficient transfers to the Water Taxi.

A New Streetcar Vision for 2017

It is tough to take the Seattle Streetcar network seriously these days. The reasons are well-known to the STB community and beyond, and are both obvious and many: right-of-way design choices that permanently handicap operations; outrageous cost overruns and design delays due to bizarre procurement decisions; service corridors that make little sense in larger plans; an inability to use political capital to design the system to truly work properly. Even our venerable leading advocacy groups don’t give much love to the streetcar.

Which is all very sad, because some of the world’s finest cities have expansive and useful networks, built for competitive sums of money that are highly effective and quite nice to use. We can, and should, do better. I want to see streetcars made a much more visible part of our transit future, and I believe that it’s possible.

Anecdotally, the existing lines — First Hill and South Lake Union — seem like solutions in search of a problem. How did we get here? And where do we go?

Continue reading “A New Streetcar Vision for 2017”

Improving Transit in Georgetown

In September 2016, Route 106 was taken out of Georgetown, Route 107 was “rerouted” to Georgetown, and Route 124 got a frequency boost. These changes got mixed reactions, with some people liking the combined corridor and others disliking the lost service during peak, night, and Sundays. However, the frequent service on Route 124 is not expected to last much longer. Metro plans to increase the frequency sometime between 2025 and 2040, but there should be another solution to Georgetown service in the meantime.

Proposal

Routes 60 and 124 will run via Corson Ave instead of Carleton and Ellis.

Route 101 will exit I-5 at Georgetown instead of SODO, and run like Route 124 between Georgetown and Downtown. Routes 101 and 124 will each run at 30-minute frequency, providing combined 15-minute frequency along Airport Way S between Georgetown and Downtown. Route 124 will be through-routed with Route 24, and Route 101 will be through-routed with Route 33.

Central District restructure

This restructure could possibly happen when East Link opens, but the main purpose of this restructure is to make buses in Central District more efficient. A while back there was another post about the Central District. I commented some of my ideas on there, but I only gave a brief overview of it. Here I go into more detail. I will divide this post into routes.

Routes 14 and 27

Currently, Route 14 is rather unbalanced. It has high ridership along Jackson St, but low ridership along 31st Ave S. Route 27 is also unbalanced, with high ridership along Yesler but low ridership along the Leschi tail. However, the section of Yesler between 12th and 31st is a short walk to Jackson, and the section between 3rd and 12th is scheduled to be served by a reroute of Route 3. I have an idea to solve the unbalanced route issues.

Between Downtown and 31st, Route 27 will move to Jackson, and it will be renumbered 25. The current Route 27 will remain as a peak-only route running between Downtown and Leschi. Routes 14 and 25 will each run at 30-minute frequency, providing combined 15-minute service along Jackson. Route 25 could possibly be a trolley route as well, though it would require placing trolley wire to Leschi. Route 14 will also stop serving the tail to Hunter Blvd.

Routes 3 and 4

Metro plans to delete Route 4 and increase frequency on Route 3. I agree with this, but I would keep Route 4 running peak-only between Downtown and Mt Baker TC, acting as a 3X along Jefferson. I would also split Route 3 in Downtown. Route 3N will run as Route 34, and Route 3S will run as Route 3. Routes 3 and 34 could possibly be through-routed, but that would depend on future ridership patterns. Between Harborview and Downtown, Route 3 will run via Yesler instead of James (Metro already has such a plan).

Route 7

I am sure that Route 3 will still be crowded between Downtown and Harborview even after the Yesler reroute. I think Route 7 should run via Yesler instead of Jackson to relieve this. Plus, it would take Route 7 out of the congestion in Little Saigon. So basically Route 7 will continue straight on Boren until Yesler and then turn on Yesler.

Route 8

Route 8 will run straight on MLK instead of deviating to 23rd between Yesler and Jackson. Instead of going to Mt Baker TC, Route 8 will run via Massachusetts and 23rd to the Judkins Park Station.

Route 2

Route 2 will no longer run north of Downtown. It will also run via Pike/Pine instead of Seneca/Spring (Metro already has such a plan).

Route 106

Instead of going via Rainier and Jackson to International District, Route 106 will run straight on MLK until Massachusetts, then take Massachusetts and 23rd to Judkins Park Station.

Routes 49 and 36

Metro has a plan to combine Routes 49 and 36 and run it through First Hill via 12th Ave instead of Downtown. I like the overall idea, but I would prefer a routing on 14th Ave because 12th is too close to Broadway and too far from 23rd, currently the only two north-south corridors in that area. 12th can be served by the peak-only Route 9 instead.

Maps

Route 25 Map: http://bit.ly/2tKqMj4

Route 49/36 between Jackson and Capitol Hill: http://bit.ly/2pvKtJz

Transit Day: SL,UT

Every vehicle operated by the Utah Transit Authority proudly carries a sticker proclaiming UTA as the “Outstanding Public Transportation System of 2014” as voted by the American Public Transportation Association. After spending 2 days riding UTA in Salt Lake City, I found there’s much to like about UTA. The system is easy to use, the fares structure is simple and there’s plenty of legible information available at the stations. My trip to Salt Lake City (sometimes abbreviated as SL,UT by the local non-conformist types) began with a very turbulent landing at the airport and ended about 40 hours later on the westbound California Zephyr. All my local transportation in SL,UT was provided by UTA and my sturdy pair of Ecco shoes.

UTA operates 4 different types of transit vehicles: heavy rail (Frontrunner), light rail (Trax), rubber tired buses and a streetcar (S-Line). Thankfully, all 4 modes are managed by just one agency, the UTA, so there aren’t any artificial barriers between the various services and simplicity seems to be the guiding philosophy of UTA. There are 3 light rail lines that radiate from the downtown business district and provide service to the airport, the University of Utah, the basketball arena, the soccer stadium, Amtrak and, of course, Temple Square–headquarters of the Mormon church. All light rail lines operate every 15 minutes from about 6am until about midnight. The light rail lines are designed to create a strong north-south service spine while the buses mostly run east-west and connect to the spine. The single streetcar line connects to all 3 light rail lines and its right-of-way appears to be an old abandoned railroad spur which allows for a mostly grade separated trip. Currently the streetcar runs every 20 minutes but there are plans and funding for a double tracking project that will allow 15 minute headways. The Frontrunner trains look a lot like our Sounder trains but with a different paint job and a broader span of service. Frontrunners operate every 30 minutes at peak hours and every hour middays and evenings. Fans of the Utah Jazz or the Utah Symphony who live in Ogden or Provo can take Frontrunner home after a game or concert.

UTA is easy to use for a visitor. An all day pass costs $6.25–equivalent to 2.5 times the standard fare of $2.50. There aren’t any zones to worry about and the pass allows transfers between light rail, the streetcar and the buses. Frontrunner costs more but a Frontrunner ticket does allow transfers to the other modes. The Trax Green Line connects the airport to downtown, the Red Line serves the University of Utah and the Blue Line stops just outside the Amtrak “station”. (SL,UT has 2 old and beautiful railroad stations that have been repurposed to retail/museum uses. Amtrak is served by a small but efficient wooden shack.) The bus routes run on 15 minute or 30 minute headways during the day and are mostly designed to be connectors to the light rail spine. Very few buses are routed into the central business district and the light rail trains do not usually share their right-of-way with buses. Unfortunately many of the bus routes drop to 60 minute headways after the evening commute hours and there is very little bus service after 9pm. The light rail lines maintain their 15 minute headways until the end of the service day.

If you are planning a trip to Salt Lake City you can skip the rental car and buy an all day pass that will get you easily to most of the local business or tourist destinations.

What to do with Routes 71 and 78

I have mentioned this before, but many people complain that Route 71 duplicates Route 62 along NE 65th St. In one of the plans for the U-Link restructure, Route 71 was to be deleted entirely with its Wedgwood tail covered by Route 78. But due to neighborhood pressure, Route 71 was kept, and Route 78 was terminated in Laurelhurst. Reasons to keep Route 71 included keeping the same level of bus service between Roosevelt and U District, and also keeping the one-seat ride between Wedgwood and U District.

Before Route 78, Laurelhurst was served by Route 25. Route 25 served much more of Laurelhurst than Route 78 does now. Since September 2014, NE 55th St has not had any off-peak service. So both the Laurelhurst and the NE 55th corridor have lost their off-peak bus service.

NE 75th St never really had any service other than a part of the 71/76 tail between 40th Ave and 50th Ave, and the old Route 68 between Roosevelt and 25th Ave NE. It is relatively close to NE 65th, but I think it deserves some service too.

Proposal

Route 71 will run via NE 75th St instead of NE 65th St. It will terminate at 55th Ave NE. Route 76 will remain the same as it is now.

A new route will run like Route 74 via NE 55th St, but instead of going north to NOAA, it will go south to Laurelhurst, serving the old 25 loop. This route will be numbered 79, and it will replace Route 78 entirely. Route 79 will run at 30-minute frequency. On the map, it shows Route 79 going to “Neptune Theatre” because that is close to where the Brooklyn station will be. If Metro puts Route 79 into service before Brooklyn station opens, it should terminate at the current UW station at Husky Stadium before moving to Brooklyn Station.

At all times, Route 62 will run both directions on NE 65th. On nights and weekends, it will loop at Radford Dr, using the old 30 loop.

Maps

Route 71 Map: http://bit.ly/2ujUHza

Route 79 Map: http://bit.ly/2t2mEvG

Deviations

Some Metro routes have minor deviations from a more direct routing. Some of these deviations make sense, and some don’t. If a deviation I said does not make sense actually has a reason, please put that in the comments section. Also, if you guys have been able to identify more deviations, feel free to write them down in the comments section.

deviations that make sense

Instead of going via Northgate Way and 1st Ave NE to Northgate TC, Route 40 runs via Meridian Ave, College Way, 92nd St, and 1st Ave to Northgate TC. This deviation is used to serve North Seattle College.

Route 65 deviates to 40th Ave NE instead of going directly on 35th Ave NE. This deviation is used to serve Children’s Hospital. Out of all the deviations I have been able to identify, this one makes the most sense.

deviations that might make sense now but could be removed

Route 107 has a deviation to Georgetown at S Albro Pl. Maybe later Metro could delete it if there is another route that can provide the connection between Georgetown and Rainier Valley.

Route 120 has a minor deviation to Westwood Village. Though it might add extra travel time, it does provide a connection to the transit center at Westwood Village. However, I think the deviation could be removed when Route 120 becomes a RapidRide line, and the transit center can be moved to White Center.

Many West Seattle routes deviate to 44th Ave SW instead of going directly on California. This deviation is used to serve Alaska Junction. I think Metro should improve connections at Alaska Junction so that routes do not have to deviate.

deviations that do NOT make sense

Route 8 deviates to 23rd Ave instead of going directly on MLK. This used to be a turnaround loop, but there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly important along this deviation.

Route 22 deviates to 41st Ave SW instead of going directly on California. Metro had considered deleting this deviation before, but voters voted against it. There does not seem to be anything particularly important along this deviation, and a more direct routing is only 1 block away from the deviation.

Route 26 (northbound) deviates to East Green Lake Way instead of going on Woodlawn. Unlike some other deviations, there is only one stop along the deviation. This used to be a turnaround loop, but using the direct routing will basically change nothing for riders except for more efficient travel times.

Routes 60 and 113 deviate into Olson-Myers Park and Ride instead of going directly on Olson Pl. Olson-Myers P&R used to have more purpose, but now Routes 60 and 113 are the only routes serving it, the latter being a peak-only express. I will discuss this in a different post, but I think Routes 60 and 113 should just go straight on Olson Pl.

Through Georgetown, Routes 60 and 124 run via Carleton and Ellis. A more direct routing would be along Corson Ave. This isn’t exactly a deviation, but it is just a weird routing where I have found a more direct solution. Plus, my direct solution would serve the Georgetown campus of South Seattle College.

Route 62 deviates to Woodlawn and Ravenna instead of going directly on NE 65th St. This deviation might provide some connection to East Green Lake, but I do not think such a deviation is necessary.

Route 120 deviates to 15th Ave SW instead of going directly on 16th Ave SW. There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly important along this deviation, and a more direct routing is only 1 block away from the deviation.

Route 128 deviates to Tukwila Int’l Blvd between S 144th St and Tukwila Int’l Blvd Station. I would guess that before TIBS opened, Route 128 ran straight on S 144th, but now it might make more sense for Route 128 to run straight on Military Rd to TIBS.

Route 132 deviates to Military Rd between S 120th St and S 128th St. It should just go straight on Des Moines Memorial Dr.

Route 347 deviates to 5th Ave NE instead of going straight on 15th Ave NE. This is more than a simple deviation, but I have thought of a more direct solution. I think Route 347 should go on 15th and Route 348 should go on 5th.

Future of Trolleybus Network

Seattle is sometimes known for its extensive trolleybus system. Trolleybuses are nice because they are quiet, but the wires can be kind of a hassle. Also, battery-electric buses are improving, which could mean that trolleybuses would be obsolete some time in the future. Here I talk about what Metro could do with the trolleybus network. I talk about some specific routes here. Some of these ideas are plans that Metro already has.

Major Changes

Map of Major Changes: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1LOrhwCohaby9urDVOiSS_47ATX0&usp=sharing

Route 49 and First Hill Streetcar

The First Hill Streetcar will be extended north to U District to replace Route 49.

Route 70 and South Lake Union Streetcar

The South Lake Union Streetcar will be extended north to U District to replace Route 70.

Route 36

Instead of going to Downtown, Route 36 will run through First Hill via 14th and 15th, then terminate at Capitol Hill Link Station.

Route 11/RapidRide G

RapidRide G Line will run along Madison all the way from Downtown to Madison Park.

Route 2

Route 2 will be split in Downtown. The south portion of Route 2 will run via Pike/Pine instead of Seneca/Spring. The north portion will become Route 23, and Routes 23 and 13 will instead be through-routed with Route 3 (see below).

Route 3

Route 3 will get a frequency boost, and also run through Yesler Terrace instead of on James. Route 3 will also get split in Downtown, with the north portion becoming Route 34. Route 34 will be through-routed with Route 14.

Route 4

Route 4 will run peak only between Downtown and Judkins Park, but also loop at Mt Baker TC instead of at Plum St. It will no longer be a trolley route, but instead act as a 3 express along Jefferson.

Routes 7/48

Route 48 will take over Route 7 south of Mt Baker TC. Instead of going to Prentice St, it will serve the Rainier Beach Link Station. Route 7 will only run between Rainier Beach Station and Prentice St via Henderson and Seward Park Ave instead of Rainier. The portion of Route 7 between Mt Baker TC and Downtown will be served by Route 106 and an extension of Route 1. Route 48 will run at 10-minute frequency, and Route 7 will run at 30-minute frequency.

Route 44

Route 44 will run to Children’s Hospital instead of Husky Stadium.

Minor Changes

Route 1

Route 1 would get extended to Mt Baker TC via Jackson and Rainier. It will no longer be through-routed with Route 14.

Route 10

Route 10 will loop at Olin Pl instead of Garfield.

Route 12

Route 12 will be discontinued. Route 60 will be extended to Interlaken Park to replace Route 12.

Route 14

Route 14 will no longer serve the tail to Hunter Blvd. It will also get a frequency boost. Route 14 will be through-routed with Route 34 instead of Route 1.

Moving routes out of Downtown

There are a lot of bus routes that go to Downtown. However, since Downtown is so overcrowded, many Downtown routes get major delays. I think Metro should move some routes of Downtown. People have mentioned the future Link and RapidRide systems, but here I only talk about what Metro can do at this moment to reduce Downtown congestion. I will talk about some specific routes in this post.

SR-520 Routes

Instead of traveling south to Downtown, SR-520 routes will run north to University of Washington, serving the station at Husky Stadium. These routes can layover elsewhere on the UW Campus. Maybe a couple peak-only routes can continue serving Downtown, but there should only be 1 or 2 of them.

Routes 21 and 125

West Seattle already has the RapidRide C Line and Route 120 providing frequent connections to Downtown. Routes 21 and 125 will be modified to serve Alaska Junction instead of Downtown.

Routes 7, 48, and 106

There is a plan for Route 48 to take over Route 7 between Mt Baker TC and Rainier Beach. I think Metro should proceed with this plan. Trolley wire for Route 48 is currently being placed, so the combined route will still be able to operate using trolleybuses. Route 106 will be moved off of Jackson and onto Boren and Fairview to serve First Hill and South Lake Union.