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.
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.
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.
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.