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With expanded light rail a year away, Metro rolls out proposed route changes

alt1-traveltime-capitol-hill alt2-traveltime-capitol-hill (1)

(Images: King County Metro)

(Images: King County Metro)

Earlier this week, CHS reported that the agency’s planning is pointing at a March 2016 opening for light rail service through Capitol Hill Station — though Sound Transit is still officially saying only that they’re planning for the first quarter of the year. CHS reported last fall that part of ramping up for the new transit option would be a plan to optimize Metro bus routes around the city in anticipation of the new service.

This week, Metro has rolled out two alternative plans for changing service on Capitol Hill and beyond when U-Link extension is fired up at the beginning of 2016. Here is Metro’s project page for the “Link Connections” planning.

As the Urbanist site reported earlier this week in a preview of the announcement, Metro’s “Link Connections” Alternative 1 is the more aggressive of the plans while Alternative 2 represents an incremental approach. If past optimization exercises with the county are any indication, you can expect Alternative 1 to be held up as a kind of marker at the edge of possibility while the second alternative ends up being closest to the final plan.

Some key details on the proposals for Capitol Hill and Central Seattle are below. Please let us know what we missed and what others should be aware of.

You should also be aware of opportunities to provide feedback on the new plans — save the 12? cheer for improved 8? plead for the 43? — both online and in person:

After exploring the two alternative concepts for changing transit service in affected areas after Link comes to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington, please tell us what you think. Please take our survey or attend one of our outreach events (our calendar will be updated as new outreach events are scheduled). Your comments will be used to help shape a proposal that will be ready for public review in May.

This round of comments will close March 31, 2015.

You can also nerd out with Metro's ridership data for current routes (PDF)

You can also nerd out with Metro’s ridership data for current routes (PDF)

The Capitol Hill meetings on the proposals are scheduled for later this month:

  • 3/19/15 6 to 8 PM: Link Connections Open House – Capitol Hill and Central Area – Seattle University, 901 12th Avenue
  • 3/24/15 8 to 10 AM: Link Connections Presentation – Capitol Hill Chamber – 12th Ave Arts Building, 1620 12th Ave, Pike/Pine Room

By the way, neither alternative includes route 47 or any of the lines cut in recent service revisions that might be restored as part of the new Seattle Transportation Benefits District.

Alternative 1 key points

  • “Aims to create a consolidated, frequent network of service”
  • “Consolidates service into fewer routes on major streets where ridership is highest, for more productivity and efficiency”
  • “All places where service remains would have service frequencies of 15 minutes or better”
  • 8 and 11: “Combine with Route 11 between Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle to reduce duplication. Improve weekday and weekend frequency.”
  • 9x: “Revise to operate on E John Street between Broadway and 15th Avenue E”
  • 12: “Delete to reduce duplication”
  • 43: “Delete to reduce duplication”
  • 48: “Replaced by new Route 45 between Loyal Heights and the University District. Continue as Route 67 to maintain connections to the University District and Roosevelt.”
  • 49: “Revise to use Madison Street to reach downtown Seattle (reducing duplication). Improve frequency during peak periods and midday on weekdays and in the evenings on weekdays and weekends”
  • 545: “Keep existing alignment and convert span to two-way extended peak-period-only service. Improve service frequency in peak periods by adding several trips in each direction. Delete weekend service and replace with ST 542 and Link light rail.”

Alternative 2 key points

  • “Involves more modest changes. It assumes that riders will switch to Link light rail only where the travel time benefit is greatest, but still responds to shifts in the transit market”
  • “Maintains more geographic coverage. For the most part, riders could reach transit the same way they do today, without having to travel farther.”
  • “Service would be less frequent, and wait times for transfers would be longer”
  • Under Alternative 2, Metro will also “put a stick in your eye.” Just kidding. Metro didn’t say that.
  • 8: no change
  • 9x: no change
  • 12: no change
  • 43: “Reduce frequency on weekdays and weekends to reduce duplication”
  • 48: no change
  • 49: no change
  • 545: “Add new service pattern with turn-back trips at Overlake Transit Center during peak periods to increase service frequency”
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12 thoughts on “With expanded light rail a year away, Metro rolls out proposed route changes

  1. Here is hoping you’re right about the end result being Option 2 or something like it. I don’t understand how they can talk about combining the 8 and 11 between Capitol Hill and Downtown – the 8 doesn’t even GO downtown, and serves a critical connection to QA.

    Also – the 43 goes close to where the U-Dist Link station will be – but also connects a huge swath of Capitol Hill to Downtown or the north. Neither Link station will be reasonable for someone who likes on, say 19th and Thomas. I can see reducing that route (sorta), but eliminating it? That’s crazy.

    Thanks for info on the mtgs.

    • 19th and Thomas is not convenient to either Link station? You are insane! That will only be 0.3 miles to the Capitol Hill station, which is a quick jaunt for most. I’m pretty sure properties around that spot will market themselves (truthfully, IMHO) as being close to light rail. Plus, if you don’t like walking, the new 8 will provide all day 10 minute frequency to the Capitol Hill station from 19th and Thomas.

      Plan 1 is semi brilliant…plan 2 is a stick in the eye. To keep the current bus route configuration with a high speed and frequent rail connection between the UW, Capitol Hill, and the CBD would be the definition of insanity.

      • .3 miles? Where do you get that? I’m not sure where all the entrances will be but per google maps it’s at least .6 miles walking.

        I’m concerned that they want to cancel both the 11 and the 12…no stop at Trader Joe’s?

      • I also do not know how you get 0.3 mile from 19th & Thomas to John & Broadway. Google Maps says it is a hilly, 13 min, 0.7 mile walk each way. It is not impossible to be at Westlake from 19th & Thomas either on a 12 or 43 in roughly that time.

        The 8 as an option? Have you ever tried to use the 8 to go anywhere? It is not known as the LEight for nothing. Increasing the frequency just means that it shows up in groups of three instead of groups of two.

        When there is a “a high speed and frequent rail connection between the UW, Capitol Hill, and the CBD” I agree that changes will need to be made and some bus service will be redundant. However, that won’t happen until NorthLink opens in 2021. UW is a huge campus, a station at Husky Stadium is not convenient for many people.

      • Yep, I measured from 15th…my mistake. I mainly walk to Broadway from my home on 25th and Thomas, so they both seem close to me! Also, there will be a station entrance on John east of Broadway. Seriously, though, that’s still very, very walkable. As for the 8, it doesn’t seem to have as many issues westbound, and with 10 minute headways you’ll rarely have to wait long even if any particular bus is cray cray late.

        I don’t think people realize how much of a game changer it will be when it’s a 2 minute non-stop trip, regardless of weather and traffic, between CH and the UW or the CBD (sometimes it takes that long for the 43 to load at the Safeway on 15th).

        I love the 43, it’s my primary transit lifeline since my life is a triangle between home on 25th and Thomas, office in Montlake, and gym on Broadway. It will be disorienting to not have nap time between work and gym…I’ll hardly have time to sit down before we’re there.

        I might be overly exhuberant with regard to proposal 1, but when U-Link opens, it’s going to be a radical evolution in this neighborhood’s transit connections. I just hope we don’t miss some epic opportunities for improving efficiency.

      • I love to walk and walking to broadway from 19th and Thomas is not a problem for me. BUT it is a problem for elderly, disabled, parents with very young children. Please think about all the types of people who use the bus and public transportation when you make blanket statements about how easy it is to walk somewhere and how much time it might take you. We need bus connections to the the light rail hubs and I agree–the UW is a big campus and along with U district–buses need to connect to the husky station.

      • It may not seem far for a fit, able-bodied person, but there are plenty of people who do not fit that description. Sorry that there are those of us who do not fit into your pretty little picture of the world. However, you may find yourself to be one of us one day.

  2. I see, now that we voted a bunch of money being told it was to restore bus service cuts from last year, let’s have more bus service cuts this year. So, I guess if we restore this year’s cuts, that will count as what we voted for last year int he way of restoring cuts, right? Remember, while the transportation district levy was advertised as dedicated to restore bus routes, there’s no actual requirement that any bus routes be restored — it’s up to the good intentions of the people deciding where to spend the money. The announcement of more cuts first, before restoring service, doesn’t give me a huge amount of confidence!

    Plus, hmm, cutting service to “avoid duplication” — the new sound transit train will have exactly two (2) stops, at Broadway and at the U. This of course duplicates so many bus routes, which have stops several miles apart. So, we’re improving transportation over our current bus service, by cutting routes, and hoping everyone will want to go from station 1 to station 2 on our new system, because, well, there just aren’t any more stations.

    Planning for ?????

    • This was my first thought, too. Also, when trying to make a speedy commute, it may not be most efficient to take a bus to the light rail station, then the light rail from there. Add in walking to and from Husky Stadium station (or Capitol Hill Station), and certain bus routes could be a better option. It also matters if I’m carrying something heavy and if a bus can get me closer to where I live.

      I also think they should analyze usage before deciding bus route changes. The 47 is coming back supposedly and the north end of Summit is not a place light rail goes. It is good that Metro and Sound Transit would coordinate, but if Metro’s answer to that are just two options, that’s ridiculous. They need much more data.

      I’m filling out the survey (link above) but I don’t have data either and they know that. But neither do they. They have guesses. Optimizing in advance is flawed inherently.

  3. I sure hope they go with option 2 as well. I look after a number of older people and without those routes it’ll be hard for them to get around. I won’t mind the 10 minute walk to the light rail station instead of a five minute walk to the bus stop. But older people will find it difficult (one of them said to me. I also don’t understand the problem of “duplication.” I was in London recently and plenty of their buses duplicate the underground and rail routes. And they provide service to a greater number of areas as well. Light rail will be great, but we don’t need fewer buses or routes, we need more.

  4. Duplication can be a GOOD thing when it comes to transit. More frequent service = more willingness to use it. People often aren’t going to wait 29 minutes for the next bus if they have a car. 9 minutes, maybe.

  5. Thanks for the info. I will. be fighting option 1 tooth & nail. I voted for transit $$ to save the #12, the only bus to bisect the hill & go to south downtown. I suspect all the people talking about “short walks” over the hill are young healthyand male. I am currently healthy, as a small female, i pick shorter/safer walks after dark. I will never vote for trains again if it means fewer transit option.