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.
In contrast, the latest proposal to restructure bus service at the start of light rail service in 2015 doesn’t propose as drastic an overhaul to routes on the Hill as it does in other places, namely around the University of Washington station at Montlake. There are a few dramatic changes here — namely the deletion of the route 43, with the route 11 taking a detour to cover some of the 43’s current route on Olive Way. But most of the service on the Hill looks like it will stay the same as residents, students, and workers get used to taking the train, but still have the option of staying on most buses all the way to downtown.
In any event, this week’s increases are very good news for Capitol Hill transit riders: with the biggest bus service increase Seattle’s ever seen, frequency is getting a boost on quite a few routes. Here is a breakdown on what routes are seeing increases this week:
- The 2: Increasing to 15 minute frequency on weekday evenings
- The 9: Adding 11 new trips on weekdays
- The 11: Increasing to 15 minute frequency on weekday afternoons and Saturdays.
- The 12: Increasing to 15 minute frequency on weekday and Saturday evenings.
- The 25: Increasing to 30 minutes during weekday peak (this is an unusual move, as Metro is almost certainly poised to delete this route next year).
- The 43: Increasing to 15 minutes on Saturday mornings.
- The 48: Increasing to 15 minutes on Saturday evenings and Sundays.
- The 49: Increasing to 15 minutes on weekday and Saturday evenings.
If you are noticing a trend, Metro definitely appears to be attempting to bring as many routes to 15 minute frequency at as many times of day as possible. 15 minute service is generally agreed to be the baseline at which riders do not have to depend upon a schedule. These increases should go a long way to providing a frequent network for as many Capitol Hill residents as possible. Very few areas will not be within a 5 minute walk of 15 minute service at most times of day.
Early this year, the city of Seattle created a transit advisory board to provide input into decisions made on behalf of Seattle bus riders through the dedicated funding sources created by Prop 1. It doesn’t appear as if the board had very much say on the initial round of service additions, but we should expect a more robust discussion of any future service changes that only affect Seattle.
Enjoy your more frequent, less crowded bus service, Capitol Hill. You deserve it. The real test will be how well service integrates with light rail. Watch this space.