King County Metro has released the Executive’s Proposal for a restructure of bus service to be rolled out early next year to coincide with the opening of light rail stations on Broadway and at the University of Washington.
If you were hoping for your bus service to mostly stay the same, this proposal should please you. But if you were hoping for a dramatic change in Metro’s approach to transit service, taking advantage of quick transfers to a fast train at any opportunity to reduce duplication and provide more frequent service to more destinations, then this proposal might leave something to be desired.
Almost every bus route on Capitol Hill stays entirely intact. Here are the changes:
- The biggest change will be to the 43, which will be deleted. In its place on E Olive Way is the new route 11. Between downtown and 19th Ave E, this route will follow the route of the current 43. At 19th, it will turn right and continue south to Madison Street, where it will take a very tricky left turn onto Madison and continue all the way down Madison and terminate in Madison Park like the current 11. This diversion down 19th Ave was not in any previous restructure proposals and is very unusual. Also of note is the fact that this route will not be able to run on trolley wire, leaving the 43’s trolley wire between Summit Avenue and 23rd Ave unused.
- The 8 will receive the only other change in physical routing and the change does not come on Capitol Hill at all. At Mount Baker Station the 8 will terminate and anyone who would continue south on Martin Luther King Jr Way S will need to transfer to the new route 38 to Rainier Beach. Splitting the 8 at Mount Baker will likely do little to alleviate reliability problems relating to the the Capitol Hill segment of this route. I talked about those reliability issues in the last column. The 8 also retains its 30 minute frequency at night and on Sundays. It will receive some added trips during weekdays and end service later at night.
- The 25, which serves Capitol Hill’s northwest edge on the way to Laurelhurst in an infrequent manner, will be deleted.
- The 10 and the 12 stay just as they are, bypassing Capitol Hill Station. Increased service thanks to Prop 1 will bring the 10 to 15 minute frequency at most all day long including Saturday and Sunday. The 12 will see weekday evening service increase to 15 minute frequency as well. Many of these frequency changes were already approved by the County Council with the passage of Prop 1 so it’s not immediately clear of the immediacy of their inclusion in this proposal or if they are merely included to clarify the longer term goals for frequency in the area.
- The 49, despite also connecting Capitol Hill to the University District will remain entirely in place and increase to 12-15 minute frequency at all times. However, U District Station at NE 45th Street will open 5 years behind the station at Montlake, at which point this route will be truly duplicated by Light Rail.
- The 48 will, like the 8, become split into 2 routes, in this case in the University District where riders can board the new route 45 which will take over the Green Lake/ Crown Hill portion of the route. With this will come an increase in frequency at most times of the day
After two rounds of public comment and three other proposals, this set of changes is very likely the final one that will get put in place in the first quarter of 2016. At this time, the only changes will probably come directly from the King County Council. The only two council members whose districts these changes are taking place in are Larry Gossett and Joe McDermott but contacting the entire council as well as County Executive Dow Constantine is probably the route to take to communicate any last minute suggestions on this restructure proposal. At this point it is not known when a final vote will take place.
UPDATE: Bus Stop missed the fact that the route 8 will also be making the same deviation via 19th Avenue that was in no earlier proposals from Metro. This deviation to a tricky turn between Madison St and 19th Avenue adds at least 2 minutes to every 8 trip, reducing the impact of splitting the 8 at Mount Baker Station and comes with little apparent justification.
You can read more about the proposals here.