Seattle Transit Blog’s Bruce Nourish dug deep into ridership figures to figure out a way to increase reliability along the corridor shared by King County Metro’s 3 and 4 buses. He concludes that moving the route to Yesler between 3rd and 9th Avenues would increase reliability. He also suggests that the southern leg of the 4 (south of 23rd and Jefferson) is redundant and could be cut.
From Seattle Transit Blog (Warning: This post gets super geeky and specific and includes some hard-to-read but info-packed graphs):
- Crush loads from downtown to Harborview in the AM peak. The average load tops out at 45, just off the chart. Keeping in mind that a Gillig trolley nominally seats 42, this means every coach is full as it heads up James. Presumably this overcrowding is already dissuading additional choice riders. This is another point in favor of the First Hill Streetcar: even though it’ll be slower, it’ll be a much more comfortable way for suburban commuters to get from the Downtown Transit Tunnel to First Hill, especially if Metro is unable to add capacity to this route in the near future. More on this below.
- Very little activity after Jefferson & 23rd, except at the two stops on 23rd at Yesler and Jackson. These two stops, in addition to frequent north-south service from the 48, have faster one-seat rides to downtown with similar headways from the 14 and 27 respectively. South of these two stops, loads are light in all time periods; boarding activity and loads increase briskly as the bus heads down Jefferson. (I’m suspicious of the apparently large number of boardings at the terminal stops on Walker; even if those numbers are true, those people have many better bus options to almost anywhere).
- Very little use of the Lighthouse for the Blind stop on Plum & 25th. While providing the ability for people who cannot drive to live and work independently is a vital function of transit, the stop here is so thinly patronized — about 15 boardings and four deboardings per day — as to suggest that, in the context of the minimal use and almost complete redundancy of the long tail of this route, finding alternative ways to serve this facility are in order.
The idea of changing the 3/4 routing from James to Yesler for the I-5 crossing has been tossed around before (CDN wrote about it last year). After just a couple blocks on Yesler, the route would cut back to Jefferson at 9th Ave and continue east into the CD as it does today.
There would need to be some trolley wire changes, which could cost millions. If voters approve the $60 vehicle license fee in November, it’s feasible that some of the $20 million allotted for trolley improvements could go to this project, Nourish notes.
What do you think? Do you use the southern portion of the 4 (between 23rd/Jefferson and MLK/S Walker)? Are areas along this portion served well enough by other routes that they could be cut?