Bus Stop | Crossing the Ts at Capitol Hill Station

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

As the “T”s are added and crossed at Capitol Hill station before the gates open for the first time on March 19th, King County Metro is finalizing its work plan around bus service serving the new light rail stations. This is really just the final bit of bureaucracy on this long process, as most of the changes have been approved for months now. But there are some notable things that can be learned from the work plan, and I want to lay them out here.

The work plan estimates that transfers between buses and light rail at the vicinity of Broadway and John will go up by only 560 people per day, which is a pretty remarkably low number of transfers. Only 280 people per day will transfer from a bus to a light rail train and vice versa at the station, according to the documents presented to the King County Council. This after a months-long discussion in our neighborhood to figure out how to reorganize our bus system to best utilize light rail.

Ridership is projected to total 14,000 riders per day, meaning that Metro’s current estimate for transferring is less than 5% of total ridership. These numbers assume that 95% of riders will arrive at the station via a mode other than a bus. It is unclear why Metro is estimating this number to be so low

Bus Stop Re-locations
The eastbound stop, currently in front of the Forever Tan on E Olive Way between Harvard and Broadway, will move to be directly in front of the station on the east side of Broadway. Riders transferring from an 8 coming from Seattle Center or a 10 from Downtown will have a very easy transfer to their bus by simply walking outside the station. Continue reading

Bus Stop | What’s ahead in Capitol Hill transit in 2016

Streetcar Safety Day - 11 of 21One year ago we looked at things to come in 2015. One of those things we’re still waiting on, but most of them came to pass and improved what it meant to get around on Capitol Hill by public transit.

Let’s look ahead at what’s to come this year, which promises to be even bigger:

  • Capitol Hill Station opens: Okay, you knew this was coming. But a 3-minute trip to Husky Stadium or Westlake? This will be the biggest game changer Capitol Hill has seen in years. Look for service to begin in mid-March. And the next stops on the Link light rail extension plan, University District, Roosevelt, and Northgate, are only 5 years away at that. If you recall Twice Sold Tales getting the boot for Capitol Hill station, you know how fast that time can fly.
  • Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 8.40.27 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 8.40.33 PMChanges in the bus system: After most of the ideas to improve bus service on Capitol Hill by reducing duplication with light rail and attempting to better serve the station were pretty much all but destroyed, for good or for bad, there are a few changes coming to bus service in late March. The 43 will see its service reduced by quite a bit, to peak only, peak direction, and the new route 10 will take over for it between Bellevue Ave and 15th Ave. That being said, almost every single bus on Capitol Hill right now is running more frequently thanks to Seattle voters who passed Prop 1 in November 2014. Service is pretty dang frequent on the 49, 48, and 10 even if all of those routes don’t quite connect in the way that would benefit the neighborhood in the long term.
  • 24184154675_1d0615f078Pronto bike share begins a new phase of expansion: After being taken over by the city’s transportation department, the 2016 city budget includes $5 million to expand the system. Some of this expansion will likely take place in 2016 but expect more to follow. Currently the system covers most of Capitol Hill, but there are some notable gaps. An area ripe for seeing expansion: the Central District and North Capitol Hill. With so many bus routes not quite getting to Capitol Hill station, Pronto can be great last-mile booster and we’ll be covering how well it is integrated as a full-fledged transit mode. The Move Seattle levy voters passed last November will also pay for several new bike lanes and neighborhood greenway corridors that will make getting around by bike more of an option for a wider range of people.
  • (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

    (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

    Oh yeah… the First Hill Streetcar: With a slew of improvements being put in right now to improve its sister streetcar, the South Lake Union Line, and a possible center city connector on the way that could merge them into one line, soon enough the delays in construction will be forgotten and the dim sum express will be ready to pick you up.

As Capitol Hill grows and the options for public transit also expand, we’ll continue to report on what’s being done to make our neighborhood accessible for all who live here and those who visit. Cheers to a good 2016, Capitol Hill transit riders.

Metro will reroute the 10 to better serve Capitol Hill Station

Rt 10King County Metro asked and the people responded: Change is coming to the 10. After receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback in a recent public survey, Metro’s decision to reroute the popular Capitol Hill bus comes as part of its preparations for the start of light rail service to Capitol Hill Station next year. Under the change, slated to go in effect in March, the 10 will scrap its E Pine and 15th Ave to E John sections to travel up the Hill on E Olive Way to serve the Broadway station.

With the 43 set to drastically reduce its service, the E Olive Way/E John Street corridor would have only had the notoriously unreliable 8 connecting it with the light rail station. Metro retreated from its proposal to reroute the 11 up E Olive Way and E Thomas to get to Madison Park, citing problems with turning at 19th Ave and E Madison.

The 11 will continue to serve E Pine, but a handful of 15th Ave blocks between E Pine and E John will be left without service. Here’s how Metro explained its decision:

Despite concerns, we think this change would better meet ridership demand along East John Street and in the Summit neighborhood, where there are nearly 1,000 bus boardings every day (940 people getting on and 1,300 getting off buses) on current Route 43. The Summit neighborhood and Olive corridor are the densest parts of Capitol Hill. Residents in this part of Capitol Hill face a steep climb to the light rail station. While the Route 43 will continue to operate in the peak periods, making this change avoids a significant net reduction of service at other times of day.

45% of 1,269 respondents approved of the changes (PDF) in the survey Metro put out earlier this month. The revamped 10 would also provide easy connections from the light rail station to Group Health, the 15th Avenue retail core, and Volunteer Park. To address concerns over bus capacity on the 11, Metro says it will use 60-foot-long articulated coaches during peak hours.

Bus Stop | The new 10? Metro taking feedback on last-minute proposal


Metro: Potential Change to Route 10 Metro is considering moving Route 10 to operate on E John Street and E Olive Way between 15th Avenue and downtown Seattle (along the same pathway as Route 43 between 15th Avenue and downtown Seattle). This change would better meet ridership demand along E John Street and in the Summit neighborhood, where there are nearly 1,000 bus boardings every day (940 people getting on buses and 1300 getting off) on current Route 43. This change would remove bus service along 15th Avenue E between E Madison Street and E John Street. A majority of the average daily ridership along this part of Route 10 (460 “ons” and 710 “offs”) are at the stops closest to 15th Avenue E and E John Street and 15th Avenue E and E Pine Street or E Madison Street. These stops would still be served by routes 8, 10, 11, and 12. If this change is made, it would occur in March of 2016.

In a response to complaints — and a few ideas — generated by the final erosions of its planned Capitol Hill routes restructure in preparation for the start of light rail service to Capitol Hill Station, an unusually nimble King County Metro is turning on a dime to ask the community about one final proposal.

Metro has released a survey which spring boards off an idea floated on the Seattle Transit Blog to reroute the 10. The 10 currently takes E Pine up to 15th Ave: routing it via Olive Way and E John would not impact its reliability much and would allow thousands more along E Olive and 15th Ave to have access to the light rail station.

You can comment on the proposal here.

As we reported last week, Metro retreated from its proposal to reroute the 11 up Olive Way and E Thomas to get to Madison Park, apparently because of an inability to make a certain turn at 19th Ave and E Madison.

This change would have connected Madison Valley and Madison Park to the Capitol Hill light rail station and also provided an east-west connection to residents off Olive Way who are losing their 43 service at most times of day. But moving bus service off any segment of Madison Street was apparently a nonstarter for certain contingents in Madison Valley.

So with the announcement that the turn could not be made at 19th Ave, the 11 is back where it runs now, with nothing to replace 43 service and the only route running on Olive Way the unreliable route 8. Connections to our brand new light rail station at Broadway and John would be worse than they are today. That’s what we thought was happening — at least, until Monday.

Moving the 10 is not a perfect solution: riders along 15th Ave between Pine and John would lose all bus service. But it is an idea Metro should seriously consider after deciding to reverse its plans at the last minute.

Create your own user feedback survey

Bus Stop | Madison BRT details — Plus, the Metro restructure that wasn’t

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 1.37.32 PMPresentation (7)For those that couldn’t make it to the downtown library for November 16th’s SDOT open house on the latest Madison Bus Rapid Transit plan, we have the department’s briefing on the project from last week’s City Council meeting, below — plus some non-BRT news from the open house about a rollback on one of the most significant changes that had been planned for Metro routes to better align service around the opening of Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail expansion in early 2016.

BRT presentation
SDOT officials presented details on the latest plans for Madison’s overhauled bus route in a session with the City Council’s transportation committee last week before the Thanksgiving holiday. The information presents an opportunity to see the plans shared at the public open house earlier in November.

Presenting the material, SDOT officials described the future Madison bus lane as part of a citywide “network of BRT” and said they were pleased to find “the biggest complaints” at the open house had been that planned “transit lanes don’t extend far enough.” “There’d be relatively limited benefits” but “significant capital costs” to extend the dedicated BRT lane all the way to MLK, one planner said. Continue reading

King County decriminalizes evading youth bus fares

transferticketKing County Council member Dave Upthegrove said he was shocked to learn that youth can be charged with misdemeanors for evading bus fares. The charge could also lead to longterm bans from riding the bus. This week, the Council adopted a motion to reduce the penalty to a civil infraction.

“Young bus riders should be held accountable for evading a fare but not charged criminally, and I am pleased that the Council supported me in changing this policy,” Upthegrove said.

The motion also calls on the county to allow cited transit riders to resolve their infractions at courthouses closer to where they live. Currently, all transit infraction hearings are held at the Shoreline Courthouse in a policy known as the “Shoreline rule.” It’s particularly a problem for younger riders, who are most frequently cited in South King County.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 4.25.32 PM

Issuing a longterm bus suspension for a juvenile must may also be limited to court orders under Upthegrove’s bill. The motion calls for the county to work towards implementing the policies by March. Unfortunately, adult offenders will still have to settle such matters in Shoreline.

The motion also calls on the county to ensure all transit security officers receive specific training to work with adolescents.

Metro wants Hill feedback on bus route restructure before 2016 light rail start

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.45.42 AMcapitol-hill-frequency2Tuesday night brings a public hearing on Metro’s proposed “Link Connections” changes to optimize bus routes as light rail service to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington begins in early 2016.

For reasons only the King County Council know, the hearing is being held in one of the city’s least public transportation-friendly corners:

Attend the public hearing
Tuesday, Oct. 6
6:30 p.m. Open house
7:00 p.m. Public testimony
Mountaineers Club
7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle
Served by Metro routes 30, 74, and 75
Use Metro’s Trip Planner to plan your travel

We advise making the smartest transit plan of all — stay home and submit a well-crafted comment online.

CHS wrote about the early formation of the restructure here in the spring. Here is how Metro describes the summary of changes proposed for Capitol Hill and the Central District: Continue reading

Bus Stop | September upgrades and the 15-minute goal for Capitol Hill

10 bus on 15th Ave E

The 10 saw added service in June. This week, almost all other bus routes follow.

This week, the second phase of increased bus service in Seattle begins, funded through Prop 1 after it was approved by voters last November. In June, Seattle transit riders saw the groundwork laid for a large increase in service, but it is this week that we are seeing the majority of added trips on bus routes around town.

In Capitol Hill, this increase might very well be the most important move that King County Metro (thanks almost entirely to Seattle voters) will be making in the lead up to the commencement of light rail service between downtown Seattle and the University of Washington early next year. With only one light rail station serving the entirety of Capitol Hill, frequent bus service to areas not directly served by light rail will be paramount to ensuring as many Hill residents are able to use the frequent, dedicated service as possible. Continue reading

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.

Metro’s ‘next generation’ of Capitol Hill-friendly electric trolleys ready to roll


Hill-friendly and relatively clean and quiet, electric trolleys are important workhorses in Seattle’s commute. Starting this week, Metro’s ancient fleet will begin a two-year rollout of replacement trolleys.

The first five of 174 replacement trolley buses go into service Wednesday with the remaining trolleys “phased in over the next two years.”

Metro says the new trolley buses will use up to 30% less electricity than the current fleet “and will significantly reduce operating costs.”

“Electric trolleys are ideal for moving people in dense urban environments, making up 12% of our fleet but carrying 20% of our weekday riders,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in an announcement of the rollout. “And they emit zero emissions. By running trolleys instead of diesel-hybrid buses over the next five years, we are keeping 42,000 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions out of our air.” Continue reading