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Goodbye to the 47 — UPDATE

Some obituaries of the COVID-19 pandemic will never be recorded. CHS is here to bury Bellevue Ave’s Metro Route 47.

It has been dead and gone for months but we never reported on its passing and, as the economy more fully reopens and increased levels of vaccination have more of us on the move, more neighbors around the western slope of Capitol Hill are asking, “What happened to the 47?”

It was more than the pandemic. The 47 was one of King County Metro’s COVID-19 sacrifices, part of a handful of suspended all-day routes and overall service reductions required due to the plunge in ridership and fare revenue during the health and economic crisis.

But as Metro has bounced back, the 47 has been left permanently behind.

The route, Seattle’s shortest electric trolley bus line, connected downtown with one of the densest census tracts on the West Coast.

It was rescued from fiscal cuts only recently. Seattle voters in 2015 approved a new Transportation Benefits District including money to buy and restore thousands of hours of Metro bus service in the city. By May of 2015, neighbors were again celebrating seeing the 47 trolley plying Bellevue Ave.

But, six years later, the 47 is off the streets and the old route stops are covered up.

Metro officials say they dropped the 47 fully after the Seattle Department of Transportation opted not to include the route in funding from the recently renewed Transportation Benefit District. Without the city’s commitment to pay for the route, the 47 wasn’t even listed in community surveys used by Metro to plan its restoration of service as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Its quiet shutdown now marks the end of decades of public transportation service to the neighborhood along the route.

UPDATE 6/2/2021 9:40 AM: Good news? A Metro spokesperson has clarified that the 47 isn’t shut down — officially. A process including the King County Council still needs to play out to officially kill it.

“No final decision has been made on the disposition of this route, which would include King County Council consideration and approval,” the spokesperson says. “For the time being Route 47 remains suspended.”

UPDATE x2: We asked Metro for a timeline for a decision. Here’s the answer we got: “We still have more work ahead of us as service planners further map out service revisions heading into 2022.”


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amy
amy
13 days ago

I get it, but its a bummer. The drivers on this route were rad. I liked riding with my neighbors. I think about folks with mobility issues who used this route to get around. It uniquely served a neato corner of the neighborhood. RIP 47.

Derek
Derek
12 days ago

This sucks. Relied on the 47 to get to work….. how can we lobby to get it back?

John Whittier Treat
John Whittier Treat
12 days ago

What a shame.

Scott
Scott
12 days ago

Seattle Class Bone Headed decision. The city encourages “no parking” housing projects in the neighborhood, then cuts off transit. Until they take down the wires, this is not a lost cause.

Caphiller
Caphiller
12 days ago

I guess the justification is that people can take the bus on Summit instead? Weak sauce, this is indeed a bummer.

Scott
Scott
12 days ago
Reply to  Caphiller

The 47 on Summit is the same as the 47 on Belevue Ave.

Caphiller
Caphiller
12 days ago
Reply to  Scott

Ah thanks for the clarification. Wow this is really awful then. The next closest bus is the 49 on Broadway!! Very poor call for one of the densest parts of the city.

NInaV
NInaV
11 days ago
Reply to  Caphiller

It’s especially tough for seniors and those with disabilities. I really wish they’d come out and walk uphill on Republican or Mercer before they say we have other alternatives.

iluvcaphill
iluvcaphill
12 days ago

This is such a bad decision. So many retired folk rely on this as the only way to get downtown. I can deal with the 1/2 mile walk to the nearest bus stop, but it seems stupid that the most densely populated part of the hill is served by no transit whatsoever.

Caphiller
Caphiller
12 days ago
Reply to  iluvcaphill

No transit whatsoever? Isn’t there a bus that goes downtown along Summit? Not that I support the service cut.

Top 'O the Hill
Top 'O the Hill
12 days ago
Reply to  Caphiller

That’s the 47, as well. It goes to downtown via Bellevue E and from downtown via Summit E.

Scott
Scott
12 days ago
Reply to  Caphiller

nope…that’s the 47

Caphiller
Caphiller
12 days ago
Reply to  Scott

Gotcha, didn’t realize it’s the same bus. This is super lame, leaving people to walk all the way to Broadway or Olive to catch the bus.

Bridget
Bridget
12 days ago

Pleas urge them to protect this route! You can contact King County Metro here: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/contact-us.aspx

Steve
Steve
11 days ago

That route was the #14 forever (I used to live at the corner of Bellevue, Bellevue, and Bellevue :-) ), until they killed it for quite a while, before they brought the route back as the #47. They really *do* need something to run down there, as the hill makes a pretty long and steep walk up to Broadway for anyone older or less fit.

Eric Hutcheson
Eric Hutcheson
11 days ago

This is a terrible decision. Being the city allows development to occur without parking because they want people to take transit they shouldn’t be ending service in such a sense and hilly neighborhood. Especially since it is a trolley route with the overhead wires.

Scott
Scott
11 days ago

Hello neighbors

Our King County Council and our Seattle City Council and Department of Transportation
are prepared to abandoned our local bus route #47.

While every resident does not necessarily use this bus, it is an important connection
from our neighborhood to downtown. It is a service that should be retained.
This will not only affect us, but many residents who may have moved here with the
municipal promise of available transit in an area becoming even more dense,
and less dependent on personal autos. This valuable transit resource is vital to our
neighborhood. We can voice opinions and assure is stays.

Please contact our local officials to offer support to retaining our route 47.

Kshama.Sawant.gov
[email protected]  our district representative on the County Council
684-Road.gov  the Seattle DOT contact
 Reply  Reply All  Forward

NInaV
NInaV
7 days ago
Reply to  Scott

Thanks for the info, Scott. King County Council Rep. Jim McDermott, who represents most of us on the #47 route, has been very responsive. His office recommended that we also go directly to Nico Martinucci, the
STBD Transit Lead, in Transit Service & Strategy/Transit & Mobility. Her contact information is O: 206-684-8674 | nico.martinucci.gov

When his staff contacted SDOT last month, this was the reply that they received:

“Since the STBD ballot measure that was approved in November netted an overall smaller pool of city-provided transit resources, we’ll actually be making a net reduction of another 44,000 hours in September of this year, bringing the total portfolio down to about 1/3 of the amount of service we were funding coming into 2020. That said, there are no easy answers in reducing routes.

In evaluating, SDOT used Metro’s 2020 System Evaluation Report (p. 32) which shows the Route 47 in the bottom 25% in three out of six performance categories, and just above that 25% threshold in the remaining three. Of the service the City retained in September, it was a top priority to maintain service investments that disproportionately served low-income communities and communities of color, especially investments on routes that have maintained relatively high ridership throughout the pandemic.

In addition to this data, SDOT consulted with our Transit Advisory Board to help shape what investments would continue, and of course worked closely with Metro service planning to ensure alignment and do our best to minimize impact to riders.”
 

alib
alib
4 days ago
Reply to  NInaV

Thanks for providing this info. Just sent my email!

longhouse_cat
longhouse_cat
10 days ago

Save the trolleybus infrastructure – extend four Route 36 trips to serve the loop in the morning, and four Route 36 trips to serve the loop in the evening. It’s a bitter compromise, I know.