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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