Emerging from COVID crisis, some bus routes across Capitol Hill will add trips while others lose them

The Route 60 is the Capitol Hill route that will see the most trips added with October’s service change. (Image: Ryan Packer/CHS)

By Ryan Packer

October 2nd will likely be most memorable as the first day you’ll be able to take light rail from Capitol Hill Station to Northgate, Roosevelt, and the heart of the U District.

But bus riders across the city will likely see changes to their routes starting then as King County Metro works to restore bus service to levels that are closer to where they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Metro is adding about 200,000 hours of bus service back county wide, bringing the system to approximately 90% of what it was in early 2020.

Even as Metro brings routes back and adds trips, some of Capitol Hill’s most frequent buses will lose trips. That’s because even after Seattle voters approved an increase in the city’s sales tax to fund transit, it wasn’t enough to match the amount being funded by the old $60 car tab combined with the slightly lower sales tax. The City Council has opted to use half of the now-$40 car tab fee to use for physical street improvements instead of funding bus service hours.

The routes seeing reductions around Capitol Hill will be the 10, 11, 12 and 48. First Hill’s routes 3 & 4 will also see trips reduced. Most of the trips going away will be on weekdays, with Saturday and Sunday frequencies staying much closer to normal. The only change to Capitol Hill’s workhorse 49 will be a change of routing in the U District to directly serve the new light rail station entrance on NE 43rd Street. The Route 48 will also change to run a bit further north, to N 50th Street. 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