Bus Stop | Locked in — Metro releases proposal for revamping routes around light rail

Stutter Bus

(Image: Metro)

(Image: Metro)

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
(Image: Metro)

(Image: Metro)

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.

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30 thoughts on “Bus Stop | Locked in — Metro releases proposal for revamping routes around light rail

  1. Hey–the 49 will not be”truly duplicated by Light Rail” in the future. It’s the only north-south bus that travels on Broadway between downtown and the U-District, serving the areas of Capitol Hill along north Broadway,10th Ave E and Roanoke Park.

    • Fair. I meant that its major destinations will be served by light rail, so it will be likely to expend so many service hours doing the same. I could see the 49 terminating at Capitol Hill Station or serving somewhere else like the Central District for example. Do not mean to discount residents of the area around 10th Ave E.

  2. Why does Metro hate the University District? With the connection at Husky Stadium station being so awful, I expect the 49 to be much more crowded.

    Also disappointed in the 8 change. I routinely take the 8 to Columbia City station to go to/from the airport since it is the easiest station.

    • I take the 8 to get to the airport all the time, too. I don’t this significantly impacts that trip for you. Just get off at Mt. Baker transit station and cross the street to the rail. You’ll probably end up on the same light rail train you would’ve if you took it all the way to Columbia City. In fact, you might even catch the previous train.

      • What’s nice about Columbia City is that the station is at grade, so you cross the street and you are there. Mt. Baker you have to slog through the station and then up to the platform which can be annoying with luggage.

      • If PeteyNice lives in the CD, the Capitol Hill station isn’t a convenient option. It would mean a 15-20 minute bus ride in the wrong direction to get a train that has a much longer trip to the airport.

      • Yes, except that he has been saying on other threads on which he is complaining heavily (Seattle transit blog) that he lives at 17th and John. So this complaint boils down to no longer being able to take the very very scenic route to catch the airport bound train at Columbia City rather than just going to the nearby station in his own neighborhood. Whatever.

      • As I said in another reply on this thread, the reason Columbia City is nice is because you don’t have to deal with escalators, etc to get on the train.

        Also, the 8 to Columbia City is generally about half an hour. Link from CHS to Columbia City is going to be 20 minutes plus a few mins on a bus plus connection time so it is a wash time wise.

  3. Some more detail to help clarify your update at the end of the story. Metro is recommending a routing revision on Route 8 between 23rd and 19th Avenues in order to give current Route 43 riders who will now need to transfer from Route 48 to either Route 8 or 11 a single location to make the transfer. If they don’t follow the same pathway across 23rd Ave, then riders would face a choice of having to wait on either John Street or Madison Street and thereby not allowing the customer to choose freely between the two routes. In addition, Route 8 would provide new connections to destinations along E Madison Street that the community said were important to serve.

    • What “destinations along E Madison Street” are being served between 24th and 19th? Safeway? There’s another one already on the routes at 15th.

      The solution to the separate stops is to have the 11 turn onto John at 24th, not have both the 8 and 11 zigzag through a bunch of turns.

    • This seems like such a bad way to accomplish that though. With this proposal, routes 8 and 11 will be traveling in an opposite direction of route 12, even though both are going downtown. I’d much rather see route 8 go turn directly onto E John from Madison, and have route 11 serve Madison St south of John.

      It seems like with this decision, Metro is punishing everyone who uses routes 8 and 11 just to make life slightly more convenient for those that live along 23rd Ave E.

      • Even as one of the few people for whom adding service on that little stretch of 19th will be helpful (since I live right by it), I agree that this is a big mistake. At best it makes the 8, 11 & 12 (because of the opposite sides issue you raise) less legible. At worst I could see it significantly hurting reliability of all three buses – even the 12, because it’ll end up having to wait behind left-turning 8s & 11s at 19th & Madison.

  4. I’ve been thinking that if Metro would eliminate the 8 stop going east at Fairview and Denny that the bus would be able
    to move up Denny more quickly during the late afternoon. I haven’t been following the traffic there in the morning but a similar move might help.

    Agree with comments about the 49–it’s a long ways between the capitol hill and u district stations and lots of people live there who rely on the 49 to get to downtown or the U.

  5. I really don’t see how the Capitol Hill restructure improves connections to Capitol Hill Station for anyone east of Broadway. 15th Ave still has no service to the station. 19th Ave (north of Thomas) still has no service to the station. 23rd Ave LOSES service to the station with the deletion of the 43, and in exchange gains a transfer penalty to the 8/11 PLUS an additional 2-3 minutes delay due to the detour. The John/Thomas frequent corridor LOSES ALL SERVICE between 19th and 23rd, for some reason having it diverted Madison.

    This proposal continues to send almost every route on the Hill to downtown, with most of the service not even going to Capitol Hill Station first.

    Recently improved, busy stops on John and Thomas will no longer be served at all while a new stop will need to be built. The signals and curbs at 19th and Madison will have to be rebuilt.

    On 19th between Madison and Thomas buses going in opposite directions will both be going downtown.

    Service from the east to Meany Middle School is cut, apparently to have the 8/11 serve two different Safeways.

    Weekend service, especially on Sundays, is still significantly less frequent than today along John/Thomas.

    How is this proposal an improvement? What happened to the vision we saw back in the days of the original alternatives?

  6. I’d be very interested to see the calculations from Metro’s service guidelines that support having the 8 and 11 deviate to Madison for 5 blocks. Not the equations, I’ve seen those. I want the actual numbers and analysis that show that this deviation is justified, particularly since it violates some of the other guidelines (e.g easy to understand, appropriate service).

  7. Yeah, as an above poster mentioned, heading from CH to the U-District is going to be pretty rough.The problem is that to walk from the Stadium to most places on campus or in the neighborhood is at least 15 minutes. So light rail gets you to the south end of the neighborhood almost instantly, but then it’s a hike to your actual destination assuming it isn’t the Stadium or medical center.

    So it will still make more sense to take the 49 if, for example, you need to head to the UW Tower, or to Paccar Hall at the north end of campus. Which means the 49 will be even more packed than normal.

    I will be fine because I’m lucky enough to live very close to the station. The light rail will cut so much time getting over the cut that a 10-20 minute walk up campus or to the Tower for work won’t hurt. Others will not be so lucky.

    • The Husky Stadium light rail stop is stupid. Anytime I’m headed to the U-District, I’m going to the Ave or beyond (north or west). I will continue to take the 49 for that purpose. People who live along the 43 route are getting majorly hosed by this proposal.

      I’ve never understood the purpose of splitting long routes. Frequently, the 7 turns into the 49 anyway, so it’s like that route was never split – except when the 7 doesn’t turn into the 49, which makes my commute longer and more of a hassle because I need to transfer buses. What’s the gain in splitting routes? There has to be one, right?

      • Actually, the Stadium stop is key in this system. Not only will it provide a stop for all of the people who work and study at the UW Medical Center and in all of those labs down there, it should also provide an easy (and greener) way for peeps to get to UW sports events. It also will be a key transfer point for people who are catching busses on 520 for the Eastside.

        So, yes, the train won’t get you up the Ave yet, but that will come. It’s still a work in progress, albeit too slow.

        I agree that the removal of the 43 — and a lack of a replacement to get riders east of the Cap Hill Station to the station — is a major mistake and definitely hoses those residents, not to mention people who work and get care at Group Health.

        I also think that the reliance on the 8 to move people up to Cap Hill Station is also a stretch. Thanks to all the development in SLU and the lack of decent transportation options to get the techies out of their cars, Denny is a near-permanent parking lot eastbound, even during many non-rush hour times. And yet, I don’t hear anyone talking about a solution here. This is a mess that will only get worse as those other buildings (and all their underground parking spaces) come on line. Transportation folks out there – is there a plan for the Denny nightmare?

      • I’ve looked at the map again and see that I made a mistake in my earlier comment about the removal of the 43. It looks like the new 11 will replace a lot of the service that will be lost east of the Cap Hill Station, so no gripes there now. The only folks that seem to get hosed are those 43 riders who will now need to transfer in order to get to the U District.

      • Re: Ryan’s comment – People like to avoid transfers, even if they are to other lines that are frequent, as it adds time and may force you to give up a coveted seat. That’s how they’re hosed.

        In the scheme of things, it’s not the biggest thing, especially if you’re a seasoned transit rider, but it may deter fussier people from wanting to get on the bus (er, train), so to speak.

    • Routes 45 and 67 will serve stops on Montlake Boulevard and NE Pacific Street every 4-8 minutes and serve stops in the U-District on the Ave. In addition, Routes 44, 48 and 271 will provide frequent, all-day service between UW Station and the U-District on NE Pacific Street and 15th Avenue NE. All told, these routes will provide up to 33 trips per hour in each direction between UW Station and the heart of the U-District. Considering that Route 49 takes 20-25 minutes to go between Capitol Hill and the heart of the U. District, taking a 4-minute link ride with a transfer to ultra-frequent service on NE Pacific Street into the heart of the U. District (taking 8-10 minutes) is going to be very competitive. Route 49 will have more frequent service and will operate every 12 minutes in the peak/midday instead of every 15 minutes – more capacity for those who aren’t inclined to use Link and transfer.

      • Ah, this makes more sense. As long as the transfers actually are boosted to that kind of frequency, it should be a decent bandaid for the years until the Brooklyn station is finished.

  8. Echoing the sentiment that these “updates” are pretty frustrating for people east of Broadway. Having to take 2 buses or walk an additional 15 minutes to catch the bus is frustrating. Save the 43!

  9. Well, hopefully our city government will come to its senses and support the sort of really helpful options now being run in SF, Uber Pool or Lyft Line (most in city trips on these services are about $7 for up to 2 people) People can go anywhere they want, and for a price pretty close to a bus ride. Nah, better to fight Uber and Lyft over how much regulation we can impose on them.

    So, yeah, these new alternatives, not likely here in Seattle. After all isn’t the purpose of public transportation to make people take the transportation that the planners want people to take? That, and protect the cab system because it, well, something about drivers being immigrants is what I recall our city council being focused on. Or, who’s going to make up the revenue for taxi medallions that won’t be as valuable anymore. Or something.

    Who cares how well it actually works for riders? Because if someone did care, for the cost of the light rail between downtown and Hec Ed, we could have had a really, really, really great bus system. Oh, well.

  10. I echo the comments of many of the eastern Hill dwellers whose transit to the U District is going to be significantly impacted by the loss of the 43 route. For me, as well as at least five other people I can speak for in my immediate social circle alone, the 43 is a lifeline–its stops on the John-Thomas corridor are always crowded, the bus is generally reliable, and serves two major destinations for the quite robust professor and student population here in one convenient package. It is moreover one of the highest-volume routes, statistically speaking. Residents of that corridor now have the unenviable choice of hiking uphill home from 23rd or Broadway–and I should point out that 6 blocks may look short on a map, but look much more forbidding when you’re facing a constant steep grade at the end of a workday, to say nothing of those with mobility issues–or adding 15 minutes to their commute to accomodate the uncertainty of a transfer. They can project all they like, but with the tortuous routes the 8 and 11 will have to take along Madison, I find it difficult to believe that Metro will be able to deliver on its promises of greater transfer reliability.

    I liked the quick-connection approach of the first plan and am disappointed to see that this one is the finalist–it seems much less well-integrated, and focused on downtown connections at the expense of other destinations. In the long run, I predict that it will lead to those on the east side of the Hill who are lucky enough to own cars using them in preference to the more unpredictable transit situation. Those of us without will just have to grit our teeth, deal with the inconvenience, and hold grudges.