Bruce and Oran over at Seattle Transit Blog have gotten their hands on some internal Metro documents regarding potential revisions to the 2, 3, 4, & 13, and have dug into the implications of of these revisions in an illustrated post (including a map of the changes drawn by Oran). Generally speaking, they combine separate infrequent routes into consolidated frequent ones. These revisions are extremely preliminary, and no plan or proposal has been officially released. The potential revisions assume no changes in Metro funding for these routes, and use only the resources currently committed to these routes. Any implementation of these changes would only one small piece of a large set of route changes that would likely accompany the introduction of Rapidride C & D from Ballard to West Seattle next year.
Many of these routes haven’t seen significant changes since the streetcars were decommissioned nearly 100 years ago. As the rest of the bus system has grown and changed around them, and cross-town routes like the 8 and 48 have been introduced, the unchanged routes start to stand out as arcane ghosts of the century-old streetcar system.
In the Central District, we would end up with a stricter E-W/N-S bus grid, where the 2, 3, 8, and 48 would all run at 15 minute intervals for most of the day. The 2 would turn around downtown, rather than continuing to Queen Anne, in an attempt to increase reliability. The 3 and 4 would be combined into one route, which would have service every 10 minutes at peak times, with extra buses running along the busiest section of the route (Ezells to Downtown) every 5 minutes. The 3’s time-eating I-5 crossing is moved from James to Yesler, freeing it from freeway onramp traffic and eliminating some of the route’s hardest left-turns, shaving 5 minutes off of the Harborview-to-Downtown leg. There are plenty of changes on the Queen Anne side of the routes too, where 4 routes are consolidated into 2, with similar results.
If these changes are implemented, many people in the CD may have to walk further to a bus stop, but will have a much shorter wait for the bus when they get there. Bus-to-bus transfers would become more common, but much less time consuming. Bus schedules on east-west routes would be more reliable overall.