City Big Changes Coming To Bus Service in SE Seattle
posted by October 20 at 17:56 PMon
Big changes are underway for bus service in Southeast Seattle, where King County Metro plans to re-route, reschedule, or eliminate more than a dozen existing routes. (Details and route maps available here). I got my flyer in the mail a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a rundown of the proposals, along with some observations (I’m ignoring the “potential service enhancements” on the theory that Metro isn’t going to have a lot of discretionary cash for a long, long time).
1) Get rid of the Route 7 express, which runs infrequently between Rainier Beach and downtown during morning and afternoon rush hours, and extend service on the Route 9 (Rainier Beach to Capitol Hill) to serve the Rainier Beach light rail station. As a frequent Route 9 and non-express rider, I won’t actually benefit from these changes (I would benefit from one of the fabled “potential enhancements,” “more frequent service on Route 9 express,” but I won’t get my hopes up); but it’s a no-brainer to improve access to light rail from points east of MLK. However, if Metro improves access to Rainier Beach without making it easier for everyone else in the Rainier Valley between Othello and MLK to access light rail too, they aren’t going to see many people leaving Rainier for light rail; it doesn’t matter how fast it is if you can’t get to it.
2) Extend Route 14 (Mount Baker to downtown) to serve the light-rail station at Rainier and MLK (the “Mount Baker station.”). From here, the Mount Baker proposals break into two options. Both would eliminate the Route 42 on MLK (which duplicates light rail), and both would eliminate a small segment of the 14 between the Mount Baker station and S. Hanford Street. Plan A would extend all 48 trips to Rainier Beach but eliminate service to Columbia City along S. Alaska St., and eliminate service between Beacon Hill and SoDo on the 38. Plan B would create a new route 109 between Skyway and Mount Baker, but would basically eliminate service on the 48 to the south end. It would also eliminate the 38. Both plans seem like mixed bags for South Seattle residents—the first one screws Beacon Hill who need to get to SoDo and Columbia City residents who want to head west (to light rail, for example); the second might improve travel times on the 48 for north end residents, but for southenders, it creates a new milk run that could be as slow and unreliable as the 7.
3) Eliminate the Route 34 between Rainier Beach and downtown, and either: a) also eliminate Routes 35 and 39 and “replace” them with a new, infrequent (every 30 minutes to an hour) Route 50 serving Seward Park and the northmost end of Columbia City; or b) keep the 39 but end it at Othello instead of Henderson in Rainier Beach. It’s hard to see why cutting a route entirely and replacing it with one that serves fewer people is better than cutting it somewhat but serving almost everyone.
4) I don’t know enough about Renton/Skyway transit issues to speak fluently on them, so I’ll just tell you what they’re proposing: Eliminating service on the 7 between Henderson and Prentice Street, and either: a) extending the 107 from Renton to serve the Rainier Beach rail station; moving the 107 off Rainier and onto 62nd Ave. S., eliminating service for some riders; and creating the Route 109 mentioned above; or b) rerouting the 107 even further east, along the route of the 109 (not included in this proposal), and making it longer; and creating a crazy-looking loop Route 108 to serve Rainier Beach, Skyway, and West Hill.
5) No more route 32 from downtown to Beacon Hill and Rainier Beach (who knew so many bus routes ended up in Rainier Beach?), and a shorter, all-trolley Route 36 that would only run to the Othello light rail station (instead of, once again, Rainier Beach). A longer Route 106 would pick up some of that slack, but it would no longer serve Rainier Ave. S. Is it me, or does an awful lot of service on Rainier get eliminated under Metro’s plan?
6) Cut the 194 to the airport, which light rail would duplicate, and replace it when light rail isn’t running with a new Route 195. This seems like a totally common-sense move that no one except anti-rail zealots could oppose, though I suppose someone will try to prove me wrong.
A few observations from other places. Seattle Transit Blog points out that Metro’s proposals miss a big opportunity to link the Rainier Valley to other parts of South Seattle—in other words, it still assumes, like the current bus system, that you’re trying to get downtown—and not, say, between Beacon Hill and Rainier. As nice as it will be to get to points north without having to go through downtown, sometimes you just want to go from Georgetown to Columbia City (which is currently more or less impossible).
The Rainier Valley Post has (uncharacteristically) little to say about the changes, but commenters there note that what Southeast Seattle needs is more bus service, not less. Given that Metro’s recent “service improvements” failed to provide a minute of additional service in Southeast Seattle, I’d say that’s about right.
Scott at the Central District News is psyched about the changes, noting optimistically, “it would be nice if this all worked out as planned.”
I agree. And I’m optimistic. I hope Metro will find the money, political will, and vision to create a bus system that works with light rail and makes the whole city easier to access without a car.
If you want to learn more about changes to bus service in Southeast Seattle (or to share your thoughts or concerns with Metro staff), Metro is holding a series of community meetings on the proposal. The first one was last week, but there are still seven more to go; information, including addresses and times, below the jump.
Tuesday, Oct. 21 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave. S., Seattle
Tuesday, Oct. 21 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave. S., Seattle
Wednesday, Oct. 22 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Federal Way City Hall, council chambers, 33325 8th Ave. S., Federal Way
Thursday, Oct. 23 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Fire District #20 training facility, 12424 76th Ave. S., Seattle (Skyway/West Hill)
Tuesday, Oct. 28 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Jefferson Community Center, 3801 Beacon Ave. S., Seattle
Thursday, Oct. 30 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
SeaTac City Hall, 4800 S. 188th St., SeaTac
Thursday, Oct. 30 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Foster High School, 4242 S. 144th St., Tukwila