About Ryan Packer

Ryan Packer lives in the Summit Slope neighborhood of Capitol Hill. He blogs at typewriteralley.blogspot.com.

Bus Stop | Off Capitol Hill: What service could look like across CD, First Hill in 2025

The #2, Central District, Seattle
Route-48In April, Bus Stop looked at what King County Metro’s long range plan — envisioning our bus network in 2025 and in 2040 — might mean for Capitol Hill routes and the riders on them. Today I want to look at how the future network sketched out by Metro’s planners imagines how things will change in Capitol Hill’s connecting communities, First Hill and the Central District.

Frequent routes
Metro defines a frequent route as a route running at 15-minute or better frequency during most of the day. Evening service, however, can be another story, but we are going to look at the frequent routes Metro has included in its long range plan as those are going to be the most important ones for providing reliable neighborhood service.

One of the most frequent routes in this network will remain the route 48. Funds have been dedicated in the Move Seattle levy package to convert the 48 corridor into a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, combined with the highest ridership route in Metro’s fleet, the 7 running on Rainier Avenue in Southeast Seattle. Continue reading

Bus Stop | What Capitol Hill bus service could look like in 2025 and beyond

The Madison bus rapid transit is slated to open by 2019.

The Madison bus rapid transit line is slated to open in 2019.

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. Continue reading

Bus Stop | Planning Ahead — The 3/26 Metro realignment

(Image: Ryan Packer)

(Image: Ryan Packer)

After enjoying our first week of light rail service to Capitol Hill Station, on Saturday it’s King County Metro’s turn to undergo a big reorientation to better serve the station. Here’s a user’s guide to the new schedules and route changes on all of the routes affected by the biggest service change for Capitol Hill buses in quite some time. With this change should come a network that quickly allows riders to transfer to Link, even if the bus does go downtown on its own anyway after it drops you off.

  • Route 10: On March 26, this bus will start serving Olive Way instead of Pine Street. Departure times for all stops will remain the same, except for the last bus of the night leaving Volunteer Park for downtown, which will leave 5 minutes earlier. Moving the 10 to Olive will provide more service between those areas and downtown than the 43 currently does, including 15-minute service until midnight where there is currently 30-minute service.
  • Route 43: Enjoy your last few days of full 43 service. When King County Counci lmember Rod Dembowski added service back to this route as the changes to bus service were being passed by the King County Council, it was peak-only service he was preserving. The trips that are sticking around between downtown and the U-District via Montlake are pretty scant. The frequency is approximately every 30 minutes during peak hours. Caveat: these times are subject to change and are only intended to give an idea of the span of service levels that are coming to the route 43. 

Continue reading

Bus Stop | Crossing the Ts at Capitol Hill Station

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

As the “T”s are added and crossed at Capitol Hill station before the gates open for the first time on March 19th, King County Metro is finalizing its work plan around bus service serving the new light rail stations. This is really just the final bit of bureaucracy on this long process, as most of the changes have been approved for months now. But there are some notable things that can be learned from the work plan, and I want to lay them out here.

The work plan estimates that transfers between buses and light rail at the vicinity of Broadway and John will go up by only 560 people per day, which is a pretty remarkably low number of transfers. Only 280 people per day will transfer from a bus to a light rail train and vice versa at the station, according to the documents presented to the King County Council. This after a months-long discussion in our neighborhood to figure out how to reorganize our bus system to best utilize light rail.

Ridership is projected to total 14,000 riders per day, meaning that Metro’s current estimate for transferring is less than 5% of total ridership. These numbers assume that 95% of riders will arrive at the station via a mode other than a bus. It is unclear why Metro is estimating this number to be so low

Bus Stop Re-locations
The eastbound stop, currently in front of the Forever Tan on E Olive Way between Harvard and Broadway, will move to be directly in front of the station on the east side of Broadway. Riders transferring from an 8 coming from Seattle Center or a 10 from Downtown will have a very easy transfer to their bus by simply walking outside the station. Continue reading

CHS Stages | The Birds at Strawberry Theater Workshop

Trying to make sense of life in a strange new world of avian murder

As 12th Ave Arts enters its second year of full programming, its three resident companies have begun carving their own niches as their identities change with the benefits that come from permanent homes. It’s from this stable base that The Birds one of the most chaotic 12th Ave productions yet — takes off.

Strawberry Theater Workshop, with founder and artistic director Greg Carter at the helm, has always been the most political, or at least issue forward, of the three companies, producing such plays as Accidental Death of an Anarchist, The Laramie Project, and The Normal Heart. Their mission statement itself gets at this, saying,The Workshop is dedicated to the idea of ensemble, in the broadest sense of the word. Our ensemble does not only mean a resident company of workers, but a collective that includes our work, our audience, and our neighborhood. This is an activist stance.” Continue reading

Bus Stop | What’s ahead in Capitol Hill transit in 2016

Streetcar Safety Day - 11 of 21One year ago we looked at things to come in 2015. One of those things we’re still waiting on, but most of them came to pass and improved what it meant to get around on Capitol Hill by public transit.

Let’s look ahead at what’s to come this year, which promises to be even bigger:

  • Capitol Hill Station opens: Okay, you knew this was coming. But a 3-minute trip to Husky Stadium or Westlake? This will be the biggest game changer Capitol Hill has seen in years. Look for service to begin in mid-March. And the next stops on the Link light rail extension plan, University District, Roosevelt, and Northgate, are only 5 years away at that. If you recall Twice Sold Tales getting the boot for Capitol Hill station, you know how fast that time can fly.
  • Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 8.40.27 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 8.40.33 PMChanges in the bus system: After most of the ideas to improve bus service on Capitol Hill by reducing duplication with light rail and attempting to better serve the station were pretty much all but destroyed, for good or for bad, there are a few changes coming to bus service in late March. The 43 will see its service reduced by quite a bit, to peak only, peak direction, and the new route 10 will take over for it between Bellevue Ave and 15th Ave. That being said, almost every single bus on Capitol Hill right now is running more frequently thanks to Seattle voters who passed Prop 1 in November 2014. Service is pretty dang frequent on the 49, 48, and 10 even if all of those routes don’t quite connect in the way that would benefit the neighborhood in the long term.
  • 24184154675_1d0615f078Pronto bike share begins a new phase of expansion: After being taken over by the city’s transportation department, the 2016 city budget includes $5 million to expand the system. Some of this expansion will likely take place in 2016 but expect more to follow. Currently the system covers most of Capitol Hill, but there are some notable gaps. An area ripe for seeing expansion: the Central District and North Capitol Hill. With so many bus routes not quite getting to Capitol Hill station, Pronto can be great last-mile booster and we’ll be covering how well it is integrated as a full-fledged transit mode. The Move Seattle levy voters passed last November will also pay for several new bike lanes and neighborhood greenway corridors that will make getting around by bike more of an option for a wider range of people.
  • (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

    (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

    Oh yeah… the First Hill Streetcar: With a slew of improvements being put in right now to improve its sister streetcar, the South Lake Union Line, and a possible center city connector on the way that could merge them into one line, soon enough the delays in construction will be forgotten and the dim sum express will be ready to pick you up.

As Capitol Hill grows and the options for public transit also expand, we’ll continue to report on what’s being done to make our neighborhood accessible for all who live here and those who visit. Cheers to a good 2016, Capitol Hill transit riders.

Bus Stop | The new 10? Metro taking feedback on last-minute proposal


Metro: Potential Change to Route 10 Metro is considering moving Route 10 to operate on E John Street and E Olive Way between 15th Avenue and downtown Seattle (along the same pathway as Route 43 between 15th Avenue and downtown Seattle). This change would better meet ridership demand along E John Street and in the Summit neighborhood, where there are nearly 1,000 bus boardings every day (940 people getting on buses and 1300 getting off) on current Route 43. This change would remove bus service along 15th Avenue E between E Madison Street and E John Street. A majority of the average daily ridership along this part of Route 10 (460 “ons” and 710 “offs”) are at the stops closest to 15th Avenue E and E John Street and 15th Avenue E and E Pine Street or E Madison Street. These stops would still be served by routes 8, 10, 11, and 12. If this change is made, it would occur in March of 2016.

In a response to complaints — and a few ideas — generated by the final erosions of its planned Capitol Hill routes restructure in preparation for the start of light rail service to Capitol Hill Station, an unusually nimble King County Metro is turning on a dime to ask the community about one final proposal.

Metro has released a survey which spring boards off an idea floated on the Seattle Transit Blog to reroute the 10. The 10 currently takes E Pine up to 15th Ave: routing it via Olive Way and E John would not impact its reliability much and would allow thousands more along E Olive and 15th Ave to have access to the light rail station.

You can comment on the proposal here.

As we reported last week, Metro retreated from its proposal to reroute the 11 up Olive Way and E Thomas to get to Madison Park, apparently because of an inability to make a certain turn at 19th Ave and E Madison.

This change would have connected Madison Valley and Madison Park to the Capitol Hill light rail station and also provided an east-west connection to residents off Olive Way who are losing their 43 service at most times of day. But moving bus service off any segment of Madison Street was apparently a nonstarter for certain contingents in Madison Valley.

So with the announcement that the turn could not be made at 19th Ave, the 11 is back where it runs now, with nothing to replace 43 service and the only route running on Olive Way the unreliable route 8. Connections to our brand new light rail station at Broadway and John would be worse than they are today. That’s what we thought was happening — at least, until Monday.

Moving the 10 is not a perfect solution: riders along 15th Ave between Pine and John would lose all bus service. But it is an idea Metro should seriously consider after deciding to reverse its plans at the last minute.

Create your own user feedback survey

Bus Stop | Madison BRT details — Plus, the Metro restructure that wasn’t

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 1.37.32 PMPresentation (7)For those that couldn’t make it to the downtown library for November 16th’s SDOT open house on the latest Madison Bus Rapid Transit plan, we have the department’s briefing on the project from last week’s City Council meeting, below — plus some non-BRT news from the open house about a rollback on one of the most significant changes that had been planned for Metro routes to better align service around the opening of Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail expansion in early 2016.

BRT presentation
SDOT officials presented details on the latest plans for Madison’s overhauled bus route in a session with the City Council’s transportation committee last week before the Thanksgiving holiday. The information presents an opportunity to see the plans shared at the public open house earlier in November.

Presenting the material, SDOT officials described the future Madison bus lane as part of a citywide “network of BRT” and said they were pleased to find “the biggest complaints” at the open house had been that planned “transit lanes don’t extend far enough.” “There’d be relatively limited benefits” but “significant capital costs” to extend the dedicated BRT lane all the way to MLK, one planner said. Continue reading

Bus Stop | Return of the 43

The 43: staying put, at some times of day (Image: Ryan Packer)

The 43: staying put, at some times of day (Image: Ryan Packer)

With the days dwindling before the start of light rail service on Capitol Hill, the King County Metropolitan Council unanimously approved Monday the set of changes to bus service that will commence with the start of U-Link service next year. We have been discussing those changes in this space since April, and along the way public comment has shaped what this proposal contains, in large part by prompting Metro to reduce the amount of dramatic changes that will be made on Capitol Hill.

A well-attended meeting in Sand Point earlier this month appears to have been the final nudge for King County Council member Rod Dembowski to introduce an amendment in committee that retains the route 43 in its entirety during peak hours, retaining a direct connection between Montlake and downtown. This amendment passed, and also included a handful of last minute changes to northeast Seattle routes. The deletion of the 43 in favor of increased frequency on the 48 and the rerouting of the route 11 to take Olive Way to get downtown was the most unpopular segment of the restructure proposal. Now the 43 is here to stay, but only at 30-minute frequency at peak times.

Monday in comments before the vote, Dembrowski said Metro should achieve “Nordstrom level of service” when it comes to customer feedback and expressed his concerns that “one-seat rides” are going away for many riders outside the city’s core. Continue reading

Bus Stop | September upgrades and the 15-minute goal for Capitol Hill

10 bus on 15th Ave E

The 10 saw added service in June. This week, almost all other bus routes follow.

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. Continue reading