Community Post

12th Avenue transit: Move the #9, or wait for more?

Although some dreams were dashed when the First Hill streetcar was designated for Broadway, neighbors around 12th Avenue got the next best thing: a mayoral commitment to explore other transit options for 12th.

But the next question for community members and leaders is what their “ask” should be to fulfill that pledge. The topic came up at this month’s 12th Avenue Stewardship Committee meeting, where the discussion centered around two basic options:

The #9 Shuffle: The first option would be to lobby for moving the #9 bus route from Broadway to 12th. The advantage here is that the route exists just a few blocks away from 12th and wouldn’t require an overall increase in Metro service to bring the buses over to 12th. But the downside is that the #9 isn’t a great bus route, running only once every 30 minutes, and only until 6:30/7:15 in the evening. Plus, it’s likely to aggravate some 1st Hill users of the #9, even after they get a shiny new streetcar route.

A new route: The second option is to lobby the city and county for an entirely new bus route. But it’s an uncertain path. Metro is facing a major revenue shortage, and may be cutting routes in coming years if the situation doesn’t improve. And in the unlikely event that the agency has more money to spend that it’s planned, current county rules put 80% of all new bus service in the suburbs, not Seattle. So it’s difficult to see how 12th Avenue could come out of all of that with thousands of hours of new bus service for an entirely new route.

More clarity should come next year with the completion of the new city Transit Master Plan, which could identify funds to improve transit in corridors like 12th. But it’s often smart to get ahead of the curve on topics like this, so it would be good for the community to pick its strategy and start the discussions ahead of time.

0 thoughts on “12th Avenue transit: Move the #9, or wait for more?

  1. I say yes, definitely move it to 12th. It would be totally redundant with the streetcar between Jackson and Aloha (the extended version of the streetcar, that is). It could still start at Aloha/B’way at the layover spot there, then go up Aloha and turn right on 12th. And of course beef up the frequency and hours of service. And eventually, when there’s money, put in some trolley wires.

  2. The irony, of course, is that the #9 *was* a trolley route…which got cut back to increase frequency on the #7. And Metro is still talking about getting rid of the trolleys altogether.

    Having said that – if the best we can get for the short term is the #9, then take what we can get. But the neighborhood really needs to hold the Mayor to his word, and work hard to support Streets for All, including some new transit money as well as pedestrian and bicycle support. The current #9 schedule is a commuter time frame, really – and the frequency is horrible for a neighborhood like 12th.

    And Scott is right – folks need to get involved with the Transit Master Plan process, if for no other reason than to make sure it doesn’t sit on the shelf when completed.

  3. Seems like the most sensible thing to me is moving the #9. After the streetcar goes in, the #9’s gonna be redundant for all of its route. North of Jackson the streetcar duplicates it, and south of Jackson the 7 or Central Link duplicates it. Seems like the #9’s route is due for a complete re-imagining.

    Here’s an idea. Run it down 14th, at least from Union to Yesler. Seems like the walkshed would cover a wider swath of neighborhood that way; If it were on 12th it would run on the very edge of the residential neighborhood. There’s a pretty wide gap between where the 2 runs on Union and where the 3/4 run down Jefferson. Plus, the span between 12th and 14th is pretty much flat. A bus on 12th would be unreliable anyways, seems like 14th is a corridor with less opportunity for unexpected delays.

    Outside of there, I don’t know what they’d do with it. Probably have it hit the Capitol Hill link station up north and the Beacon Hill Transit Center down south.
    Past those points it could extend to… anywhere.
    Keep going North to Aloha still, but moved to 12th so as to not duplicate the 49?

    Most of it’s current route south of Jackson would be better served by expanded 7x service, as most of the SCCC commuters would probably not mind the extra transfer to the streetcar once it’s built.

    Maybe it could head on out east and cover the 32nd corridor from McClellan to Genesee (like what the 14 stops short of doing now), and then head back west to end at the Columbia City station?
    If we do that, we can move the 14’s “tail” to go up Beacon Hill instead, taking the 38’s route. Then we can eliminate the 38 completely. By that point in time, Metro would already be getting the new hybrid 40′ buses, so we might not even need to worry about the expense of moving the 14’s trolley-wires.

    Any other ideas for a new 9?

  4. …and no point of going south past i-90 anymore… It’s not 1970’s… (that’s when the route was planned). Most of the employment-business centers are now on the Eastside, while there is absolutely no transit route that goes there from Capitol hill/Central Area, even though we are so close to i-90.
    I would really love to see the #9 go east on I-90 into Bellevue, or at least Factoria, instead of south to dead Rainier Valley. Right now, route 9 just duplicates route 7 between I-90 and Rainier Beach. It doesn’t even go to Renton, which also has a lot of shopping and employment. The old sad #9 just ends in Rainier Beach, as it did back in 1973. The only difference now, it has less frequency and Rainier Beach is a no man’s land.

    So the point I am making here is that moving the #9 to 12th Ave is a great idea, but it is not enough to make people use it, since it still has no meaningful destination south of i-90. If it was 1973, sure… but it’s 2010 already, Rainier Valley has nothing to fulfill the needs of the 12th ave corridor today.

    This is also savings, since it takes less buses when they travel faster on the freeway rather than a street. I would totally use it from SU to Bellevue Square, or even Factoria, if Metro is really stingy. But at the same time I do not see how they are saving money by duplicating so many routes south of I-90, and yet they don’t even go to Renton or Southcenter, just end in Rainier Beach… hmmm

  5. How about rerouting, not the 9, but the 49 (with the added bonus of making the 7 more reliable)?

    The 49 is going to be really redundant once U-Link and the First Hill Streetcar opens – the Pine Street leg, which duplicates the 10 and 11 and is mostly how the 49 gets to Broadway, and which will be further duplicated by the Downtown-Cap Hill leg of U-Link; I suspect most of the buses that currently serve Campus Parkway will either be cut or moved to either the campus or Montlake/Pacific Pl to serve the University station, rendering U-District-Cap Hill trips redundant even before Link opens; and service on Broadway will be duplicated by the First Hill Streetcar (though I agree it’s nowhere near as redundant as the 9) especially if it gets the Aloha extension. That reduces the purpose of the 49 to lifeline service on 10th.

    How about taking the 49 off the trolley wires, re-routing it to sidle over to 12th at Aloha or Mercer, follow 12th down to Jackson or so, and whipping around into Downtown?

    (Of course, I say this as someone who lives in the U-District, commutes to SU, and was really pissed when the 9 was truncated and its service hours given to the 49 right before I started going there…)

    The problem with 14th is that there isn’t much there, while there are several businesses along 12th.

  6. I support the idea of bus service on 12th but I don’t really see much point to having it any further North than John. The retail pretty much peters out there and I don’t think there are plans to extend it further. The real screaming need for transit service on 12th is South of Union where the hill makes walking up to Broadway less than desirable and the nearest North/South service to the East is on 23rd.