With eye on 2016 Capitol Hill light rail, plans readied to integrate Metro, Sound Transit service — UPDATE

Escalators leading up to mezzanine level of the UW light rail station (Image: CHS)

Escalators leading up to mezzanine level of the UW light rail station (Image: CHS)

King County Executive Dow Constantine will be at the University of Washington light rail station construction site Wednesday afternoon to announce the “initial results” of planning “to integrate services provided by the region’s two largest transit agencies” — King County’s Metro and Sound Transit.

“It is essential for transit agencies with overlapping jurisdictions to fully integrate their services, and provide them to the public as efficiently as possible,” Constantine said in a statement on the planning earlier this summer following his executive order forcing the process. “Long term, our transportation future requires both adequate revenue and continuous innovation to expand service. This initiative advances the innovation half of that equation.”

UPDATE: The release plan includes possible proposals to revise Metro Route 8 and create or revise Capitol Hill routes to better connect the Broadway light rail station to South Lake Union and First Hill. More details below.

The planning areas are outlined here:

  • Integrating bus and rail service to make full use of the significantly greater operating speeds, reliability and capacity of rail and RapidRide.
  • Putting savings into improving local service and regional connections – setting the stage for the start-up of University Link service from downtown Seattle to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington in early 2016.
  • Maximizing efficiency by accelerating the full coordination of scheduling, operations, maintenance, administration, transparency, and accountability measures.
  • Keeping a focus on equity, sustainability, and serving transit-dependent populations.
  • Optimizing coordinated planning for major transit hubs to ensure seamless access to all modes of transportation.
  • Further integrating rider information tools, such as online trip planners.
  • Integrating planning with state highways, ferries, and other modes.

Specific proposals are expected to be unveiled Wednesday afternoon.

(Image: King County

(Image: King County

UPDATE: Following Wednesday’s media conference, details of the early planning were released including a list of “potential Metro changes” being planned in preparation for increase light rail service in Seattle:

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 2.18.05 PM

You’ll note the planning includes planned “public outreach” on the possible changes beginning in 2015. The goal, the release report states, is “an integrated rail-bus service network that enhances transit rider mobility while making the best use of resources in this corridor with goals including:

  • Providing convenient transfers to light rail service at U Link stations for riders traveling downtown;
  • Improving transit connections to Link light rail and high-frequency bus service for neighborhoods north and northeast of the university;œ
  • Providing more reliable, expanded opportunities for transit travel to and from the University of Washington, Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle and throughout the region; andœ Reducing delay of both transit and general traffic by reducing the number of buses traveling into and through downtown Seattle in the U Link corridor.

Planners are also preparing for the opening of the First Hill streetcar:

A major opportunity associated with the 2015 service changes is the opening of the First Hill Streetcar in late 2014 or early 2015. Metro’s service reduction plan achieves efficiencies by reorienting neighborhood bus services to the area around 12th Avenue and South Jackson Street. Several neighborhoods including the Central District and Mount Baker will have excellent streetcar connections maintaining and enhancing access to downtown Seattle, First Hill and Capitol Hill, and the light rail system. Sound Transit and Metro, working with the City of Seattle, will continue to identify potential opportunities to integrate their services to achieve greater overall system efficiencies.

You can review the full “transit integration report” here (PDF).

The planning comes as transportation budgets continue to be pinched — especially at the county level. Constantine also serves as chair of the Sound Transit board.

In addition to the continued budget challenges, the moves are aligned around the start of light rail service between downtown, Capitol Hill, and UW. By early 2016, trains will be carrying thousands of riders on the three-minute ride from Capitol Hill Station to Husky Stadium.


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5 thoughts on “With eye on 2016 Capitol Hill light rail, plans readied to integrate Metro, Sound Transit service — UPDATE

  1. I hope this also includes ST/KC Metro’s commitment to OneBusAway. The smartphone app and the SMS interface still have some annoying glitches that have not been addressed. When contacting Sound Transit help if you bring up a fault all they tell you is “we are referring this to our vendor” and then nothing ever gets done. I’ve had a trouble ticket going since the end of May and when I inquire what the status of the trouble ticket I don’t get an answer. I don’t know if it’s just because they never get any reports of fixes or they figure ignoring it that whoever makes the query will just go away.

  2. I wonder if they are planning on having the 36/49 combo cross Jackson and head up Boren ave to Broadway instead of slogging through downtown like it does today (or whether they’ll just link them like the 7/49 does on weekends/holidays)

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  4. I’m hoping they scrap the 2-car trainsets during peak periods and use 3-car trainsets; this will help peak demand while making minimal sacrifice to the headways and at-grade crossing frequencies.

    I also think the signals in the tunnel get updated. There should be no reason why a bus/train has to wait for the platform to be fully empty before proceeding; or atleast give an open signal once either one passes the end 10+ ft before entering the round portal. Many times on a bus (and train) we’ve waited several seconds after the platform was already clear of any traffic…