With its big U-Link bus restructure in place, King County Metro has quietly begun laying the ground work to adapt to the next phase of expansion of Sound Transit’s light rail system. Within days of Seattle getting its first look at how Seattle’s light rail network will look in 2040 — with service to Ballard and West Seattle, in addition to Everett and Tacoma on the extremities of the system — Metro released a map showing its first attempt to serve our region in conjunction with that system. CHS dug into the Long Range Plan map to find how those changes would affect Capitol Hill.
As we have seen in the past, these plans can change dramatically, even more so with the timelines in decades instead of years. But the map provides an insight into how transit planners at Metro are attempting to serve Capitol Hill riders. Metro is breaking these changes into two conceptual phases: 2025 service and 2040 service.
The biggest change that will be in place by 2025 is Madison BRT. This project will consolidate service on Madison Street in dedicated lanes between downtown and Madison Valley, freeing up some service hours to be used elsewhere to complement.
As a result, Metro is eyeing moving route 2 off Seneca St. on First Hill and onto Pine Street in Capitol Hill.
This change, in turn, will pave the way for Metro to create a new crosstown workhorse between the Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, and Capitol Hill from the current route 49. This route will serve 12th Ave, which perplexingly does not have any Metro service today despite being the eastern edge of one of Seattle’s largest private universities. This will also be the most frequent transfer between Madison BRT and light rail service at Capitol Hill Station.
The other route that is in for major changes as a result of Madison BRT is the route 12. The proposed new 12 will essentially be the exact same route as a 43, except will serve 19th Ave between Thomas and Aloha. Service on Aloha is something new for Capitol Hill, and trolley wire would be required on that street to bring this route into the trolley bus network.
Speaking of Aloha, one of the most interesting new route proposals in the long range plan is a route that provides cross-Capitol Hill service on Aloha Street and Roy Street and connects to South Lake Union via the Lakeview Overpass. No Metro buses currently use the overpass. This would provide a pretty quick connection between South Lake Union and Madison BRT.
The future envisioned for the route 47? Metro imagines this route, which currently runs along both Summit Ave northbound and Bellevue Ave southbound, being consolidated onto Bellevue Ave. It also imagines it continuing on via Lakeview Boulevard and circling though Montlake before terminating in Laurelhurst.
By 2025 Metro envisions the route 8 and 11 fusing together as they had in previous restructure proposals. By that time Aurora Ave N will be reconnected to the grid as a boulevard, allowing the 8 to move off Denny west of Fairview Ave N in South Lake Union. Metro is planning a bus-only lane on the remaining portion, which should make the route much more reliable.
The 2025 network is almost identical to the envisioned network for 2040. The main changes are that two of the corridors I listed above will become one of 20 new planned RapidRide routes: the Beacon Hill-bound 49 corridor, and the route 8/11 hybrid corridor.
The upgraded 8 will connect the new South Lake Union and Uptown light rail stops, projected to open in 2038, to Capitol Hill. This will also be direct connection to other new RapidRide routes, like the one planned to take over the current route 40.
As you can tell, Metro is making inroads to providing service in areas that it currently doesn’t serve at all. In addition, it appears to be eyeing the conversion of corridors that are currently tied to electric trolley wire to off-wire fully electric buses. How effective their vision will be realized on the ground is a different story that will play out in the coming years, most significantly with the roll out of Madison BRT in 2019.
These concepts will certainly change, but it is exciting to get a first glimpse at how people on Capitol Hill will get around without a car in 2040. The only thing missing is a gondola.