Community Post

Madrona businesses want bus layover station moved

For decades, nearly half a block’s worth of retail storefront along 34th Ave has been perpetually blocked by #3 buses. At any given time, from one to three buses idle or camp out between routes at the layover station – much to the dismay of the businesses there.

That may be about to change.

This morning, a representative from the Metro Transit Division met with Madrona building and business owners to discuss the possibility of moving the bus layover out of the main business district. 

The meeting came about after John Platt, one of the owners of St. Clouds, learned of Metro’s proposals about bus stop reduction on the #3 and #4 lines. Given that there are three bus stops, including the layover station, in essentially one square block (the block between 34th and 33rd and Union and Spring), he saw it as a win-win situation. Metro would be able to reduce costs by reducing stops, and Madrona businesses would lose one of their biggest headaches.

“If you look at this block here, you can see a business district that’s suffering,” said Platt, whose restaurant is completely blocked from view by the buses on a regular basis.

Other local businesses chimed in, including the owner of the travel agency directly in front of the bus layover station who said he tried to get the stop moved 30 years ago. Jason Weakley, a potential renter for the vacant space next to St. Clouds, said he had to seriously reconsider leasing the space because of the bus layover.

The business owners proposal is to move the bus layover farther south down 34th Ave to be alongside the Madrona Playfield, where it would not block any businesses. This would also open up valuable parking spots along 34th, and hopefully increase the chances of revitalization of the empty parking lot and house across the street.

“It would be a huge benefit for that to be moved,” said Nikola Davidson, president of BOOM (Business Owners of Madrona). “We want to present the most beautiful vision of Madrona that we can.”

Mary Bemowski, the transit planner from Metro’s Transit Division, explained the obstacles from Metro’s perspective. A “passing wire” would need to be added to the overhead trolley wire at the new stop, to allow buses to go around one another. The City of Seattle owns the right of way, so it would have to be involved in moving the stop. Other factors are accessibility of a comfort station for drivers and the effect on riders who transfer between the #2 and #3.

Still, Metro has said they will take “a serious look” at the situation. The next steps are for Bemowski to conduct an evaluation of the area, talk to service planners, present a plan and discuss it internally.

That won’t happen until mid-July, so we’ll keep you informed of any developments. The bottom line, though, is that moving the bus layover stop would be hugely significant for the blossoming Madrona business district – and for the first time in decades, the move looks like a possibility.

0 thoughts on “Madrona businesses want bus layover station moved

  1. those bus stops have been there as long as i can remember growing up in that neighborhood there is adequate parking lots available in that area let’s concentrate on all the folks that are running the stops signs on 34th and union, 34th and cherry and making all those u turns in the middle of the block between union and pike

  2. I’m glad those bus stops might be relocated. They block the street view, and take parking. No reason they shouldn’t be relocated.

  3. U turns are legal in some cases, unless there is sign prohibiting U turns.

    State law says drivers are not allowed to make a U turn “unless such movement can be made in safety and without interfering with other traffic.”

    Vehicles making the U turn must be seen within 500 feet by drivers of other vehicles approaching from either direction.

    The law is defined in RCW 46.61.295:

    (1) The driver of any vehicle shall not turn such vehicle so as to proceed in the opposite direction unless such movement can be made in safety and without interfering with other traffic.

    (2) No vehicle shall be turned so as to proceed in the opposite direction upon any curve, or upon the approach to or near the crest of a grade, where such vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of any other vehicle approaching from either direction within 500 feet.

  4. There are some in the Shelter at the playfield. I realize that drivers used the deli, if they have a long enough break they could still run there. I also realize that the playfield restrooms are locked at night. Maybe something can be worked out with Parks and Rec.

    Seriously, we are talking about all government entities ummm working together?

  5. Seriously, you’re proposing that people actually use those toilets? Would YOU use those toilets, especially in the evening? Would you like to take your break in a place like that?

    And, ummmmm, agencies work together all the time. The reason you don’t know about it is because it, ummmmm, works.

  6. I hope they get moved, I’ve always found three of them lined up there so annoying. Would love to enjoy my meal at St. Clouds looking out on to the pretty street, and people watching. I also think that moving them to the park is a great idea, as the park is up high enough that you wouldn’t see them. And, I have used those restrooms, they’re fine. Better than restrooms at Greenlake or Golden Gardens.

  7. I live across the street from the current layover stop and I have to attack a couple assumptions here. I am a big fan of John and St. Clouds and I see that it hurts their visibility a little bit to be behind the layover stop but, this stop is not the urban blight the article implies and we in Madrona are not lacking in parking. I live across the street from this bus stop and I am hardly ever bothered by their layover. Although, on the weekends when you have diesel buses idling it is less ideal and if Metro gets rid of trolley buses entirely in favor of diesel as they are considering we would have a very different situation.
    Still, to suggest that this bus stop is a source of hardship for Madrona is completely disingenuous. The parking lot and abandoned house that were alluded to have nothing to do with the bus stop and everything to do with the real estate boom and bust. A couple years ago, buying a parking lot for $1 million to develop it into a mixed use building seemed like a great idea but since then (as has happened all over the city), the plan has stalled. The house was similarly gutted in order to be sold and, presumably leveled to make way for something bigger. But, people are simply not willing to invest in this type of project right now. None of this has anything to do with the buses or parking and I would add, that I park on the street all the time and the greatest hardship one ever has to endure is walking a block or so to your destination. It is particularly ironic to see people complaining about the lack of parking right next to people complaining about the empty parking lot across the street which can’t lure people to pay to park for even a $1 a day.
    All this being said, I am not totally opposed to moving the layover spot and I think the bus stop consolidation is great. Let’s just not get in the habit of moving bus stops away from where they should be, the centers of our urban villages where they can serve the most people to make room for free parking.

  8. I was at Madrona Park weekend before last and was actually thinking how it would be nice if the layover was in front of the park. Either parked cars or buses provide a buffer between the street and sidewalk, but to be frank I trust the bus professionals more than the average driver.

    The problem of course is that this will cost money… I assume these businesses are willing to donate thousands of dollars to the cause. :)

  9. As a Metro driver, I find these comments uninformed. Many Bus drivers contribute to the economy in their layover areas. We pick our routes not just on type and time, but the amenities offered. I have personally have purchased from the Deli, McClouds, Cupcake Royale, and Namm Thai especially. Moving the layover would inhibit this drive to purchase meals at Madrona businesses. Sorry, but if I have only a twenty minute layover, I would bag rather then purchase. Even if I call ahead, I would waste most of my time on the walk when I could be eating something I just purchased. When you spend $15 on takeout, you don’t want to eat it ice-cold.
    No one seems to address the ADA issue with the stop relocation. There is a very well known elderly lady, whom uses an electric chair, that eats often with her family in these area restaurants. Why would any person in a wheelchair continue to patron these establishments if they had to attempt to drive their chairs/ walkers over the vastly destroyed sidewalks on 34th to reboard a bus back home? These sidewalks are destroyed by roots from the adjacent trees.
    Also, many people run between the 2 and the 3 at these locations. Both routes are known for time delays. Many people whom chose to live right at 24th and Madrona picked that area for the access to both bus routes. This neighborhood factor would be lost.
    Most pointedly, safety at night is an issue. No one can hear you scream at 1230am if a sleeping, violent person attacks you (yes happens) at your terminal if it is not well lit and traveled. Keeping the terminal at 34th is a personal safety issue for drivers.

  10. There’s this thing called global warming, Madrona business owners. Your customers won’t be driving and parking forever. You have tremendous transit access right now – acting like it’s a harm rather than an asset is symbolic of your backward thinking.

    Diesel buses are a problem, no question. How about we all work together to get new electric trolley buses with battery capability so they’re not getting replaced with diesels during weekend construction?

    Finally, how about ENCOURAGING your customers to arrive by transit, and appreciating the business you’re getting from your favorite Metro drivers (see KG’s post above) and working together to deal with changes that are coming. As stated by several folks above, “lack of parking” isn’t Madrona’s business problem.