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Bus Stop | How’s your Capitol Hill bus route doing?

It’s been five weeks since Seattle started seeing added service on King County Metro buses. It is only the first phase in what has been promoted by members of the city council as the “best bus service Seattle has ever seen” and the improvements that have been made on the Hill are more targeted than the ones being applied elsewhere in the city, but I’m devoting today’s column to what Capitol Hill bus riders are seeing at the stops.


The most noticeable change is the return of the 47. This Summit Avenue/Bellevue Avenue bus, deleted in September (we gave it a nice sendoff) is back, with even more limited service hours than it had before. With only 12 minutes on the schedule from one end of the route to the other, and half of the route being shared with the 43 along Pike & Bellevue. this bus returning to the hill is a large chunk of the service hours Capitol Hill is receiving from the increase in the sales tax rate and car tab fee.

And with good reason: the 47 is a vital connection to a part of the neighborhood that would not otherwise be well served by transit, and not easily accessible if you aren’t able to go up and down the hill to Broadway. Points that have all been made before. But if the 47 is going to survive as a long-term transit corridor, with the introduction of light rail into the neighborhood, it seems clear that Metro is going to need to get more serious about investments in it.

For example, service on the 47 now doesn’t extend past 7 PM. This is an extremely early time for termination of service. For the northwest corner of Capitol Hill to secure a spot on the high frequency grid that should arise with light rail’s introduction to our neighborhood, that service will need to be extended longer.

Until 2012, the 47 operated as the northern tail of the route 14 from Mount Baker to downtown. This provided a benefit to the riders of both bus routes: riders from Summit Slope had a direct connection to Pioneer Square, the ID, and the northern edge of the Rainier Valley, and riders from these areas could catch a bus almost all of the way into the heart of Capitol Hill. After this connection was severed and the 47 created, ridership on the 47 has never been able to attain what it once was when it was connected to the 14. Granted, many of the neighborhoods that were once connected in this way will be better accessed by Summit Slope residents by light rail or the First Hill streetcar, but Metro would benefit from attempting to reintegrate the 47 into the bus network. This would improve the 47’s productivity and have a net positive benefit for all riders.

A curious feature of the new 2015 47 is that one of the northbound stops, on Summit at Harrison Street, has been deleted. After the stop at Summit and Olive, which is essentially the same as taking the 43 to the stop on the other side of Olive, there were only three additional bus stops until the end of the route previously. This is a 33% reduction in northbound stops unique to the 47: anyone who gets off at Summit and walks north might as well have been on a 43. On recent peak PM trips, I have observed at least half of the riders from downtown getting off at this stop of the route or before. This is an odd place for Metro to cut corners. Bus Stop has not yet heard back from Metro on the reason for this stop’s elimination.

This is what I am observing on the resurrected 47- what are you seeing on your buses? Do you ride the 10 or the 60, the other main beneficiaries of prop 1 money? Bus Stop wants to hear your stories.



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27 thoughts on “Bus Stop | How’s your Capitol Hill bus route doing?

  1. 49 is as awful as ever. The same “get to bus stop, wait 15 minutes past the time the bus is supposed to arrive, watch as 2 of them pull up together” routine.

  2. And even more curious feature of the 2015 47 is the elimination of the stop at Bellevue & Denny – the transfer point to route 8.

  3. The 47 restoration is half-assed and incomplete, and really doesn’t get you anything riding the 43 does. I think Metro did this by design, so they can claim lack of ridership and cancel the 47 for good in a few months.

    In the bigger picture, Capitol Hill continues to get shat upon by Metro. The pike street stops on 4th and 5th never came back either, so your choices to get home are either 3rd and Pike, or the Convention place stop.

    • The lower downtown stop is actually at 4th & Pike, but the removal of the well-placed 6th & Pike stop pains me every time I’m trying to get back uphill from downtown. The stop on 4th is extremely squalid and crowded, as well as being too far down, and the Convention stop is halfway up the hill, defeating the point of trying to hop on the bus.

      • Squalid? I use that stop most weekdays, and while it’s certainly crowded, I wouldn’t call it squalid. The 3rd Ave stops at Pike? Now THOSE are squalid.

        I do miss having a stop between 4th and the Convention Center though.

      • No, it’s not 3rd Ave-level squalor, but since it’s a small space (unlike 6th & Pike, which was a vast area), it can get kind of gross and claustrophobic if there are a few weirdos waiting there.

  4. The 47 is my new favorite route. As a long-suffering rider of the 43 and 49, my daily commute between the hill and UW has never been fun. The glorious 47, however, stops on my corner and gets me to the tunnel and off to UW with the greatest of ease. I’d love to see this route have more runs early in the morning and of course later into the evening. 7pm? Come on now.

  5. Another suffering daily 49 rider here, which was supposed to receive funding to increase reliability.

    It’s just as unreliable as ever. And it’ll be worse (again) in the mornings to the UDistrict when school starts up.

  6. Hardly anyone on the 47 when I’ve ridden it (granted, this is anecdote, not data). I won’t be surprised if it’s the first to go in the next round of cuts.
    Now…the 8, what to do about the poor 8 which is stuck in SLU/I-5 entry traffic to the point of near immobility in the afternoons. I wish we could have a pedestrian tram from Denny & Dexter up to Broadway!!!! Seriously, SLU is a nightmare unless you can walk, and …. given the amount of construction coming up based on the myriad land use signs, it’s only gonna get a WHOLE LOT WORSE!!!! What are they thinking?

    • Route 8 – yes, they added one additional bus during rush hour but tonight was awful. AWFUL. Being 19 minutes late, the bus got packed at Westlake. Then subsequently filled at Fairview (after sitting at the light for seriously 5 times). I’m not sure everyone got on at Stewart cause I couldn’t see. Seriously, they need to use the left lane with a monitor (to stop cars) so they can by pass the right lane parking lot.

      • I’ve largely given up on the 8 in the evenings. It’s faster for me to walk the 3 miles over Cap Hill than it is to wait for an Eastbound 8 bus with space left at Stewart. So now I just bike it and save the $5.50 a day.

    • Trying to use Denny as a transit corridor, pedestrian corridor, and I-5 & 99 entry point is pretty absurd. There’s been talk about a subway line under Denny which would be great (if it ever happens), but has anyone considered an alternative bus to the 8 that connects Broadway and SLU via Lakeview/Belmont using either Thomas or Harrison to move across SLU? It’s a bit counterintuitive, and I don’t really know what rush hour is like on those streets, but Lakeview seems like an underused connection across I-5.

      • This would absolutely destroy the roads, and the Belmont/Fairview link is already pretty torn up due to extra Metro traffic from all those nice blue commuter buses that now do staging in the area around Fairview/Republican by the old Mars Bar. Republican and Thomas are permanently ripped up from construction and buses.

        Asphalt roadways can not hold up to the pounding the neighborhood now puts on them, so we have permanently scarred roads, narrow, full of potholes, it’s pretty bad now.


        Really, Seattle was not built to do a direct line from SLU to Capitol Hill in any measurable way now, Denny Way is oversubscribed badly, Olive Way is the natural way up and down (why did they never put a bus from the back end of the Transit Tunnel on Olive Way and have it head directly up Olive Way to Broadway and beyond? Seems like a no brainer, I’ve walked up that road many times and wondered why the bus stop on Olive behind the transit tunnel is only for 1-way outbound to suburbia or U-district buses. More Metro genius no doubt)

  7. Are there plans to return the 47 to regular service? I was so thrilled that it came back I didn’t realize that it would be limited to daytime service. Honestly – I can walk during the day – it’s at night that I’d rather take the bus downtown/ home.

    • No plans mentioned- stay tuned for the final proposal to change bus service after Capitol Hill station opens next Spring. We will see what happens to the 47 then.

      Really, though, the 47 appears to be entirely within the City of Seattle’s jurisdiction now, it’s being paid for with prop 1 money entirely. It’s not entirely likely that the span of service will change. 35 minute headways mean that only one coach is needed at a time, and it ends after peak hours are over.

  8. The 47 also cut the stop on Belmont between Summit and Bellevue Pl, which was where I used to get off.

    According to Google Maps, that little triangular shaped plot of land is called Summit Place Park. Who knew?

  9. I think Bus Stop Could use a different name. Why not The Dark Passenger, or The BS Corner, or something more unique…?

  10. the return of the 47 has made my nightly commute a little less congested at 5pm since a chunk of the ride load is being taken off of the 43. it’s not perfect, but it’s something, so i am grateful.