What the 4’s cut would buy us (and what happens at the Queen Anne end)

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.

0 thoughts on “What the 4’s cut would buy us (and what happens at the Queen Anne end)

  1. people who can afford to pay more should pay more. i always add a little extra when i ride the bus. i have a car too, and own a house, so i directly pay a lot of other transportation taxes. the bus is a bargain, and those who use it and can afford to paymore should.

  2. I am so thrilled to see a lot of the consolidations that Metro has planned. I love cutting back on bus stops – the 7 does not need to stop every 2 blocks in the ID, for example – and I like route consolidations where previously the routes seemed redundant. It will help make bus transit a more reliable and efficient mode of non-car transportation, and with the increased service it will be faster to transfer routes.

    I’m sure some folks are upset, especially those that are close to stops/routes that might be shut down. But I think that if we all commit to walking 5 more blocks to get to a bus, we will be healthier, get to know our neighbors better, and the buses will get us to where we need to go faster.

  3. I think it is time to fact check who the transit bloggers represent and how much of their information is really complete. Remember every time anyone goes to the blog they make money from their adds. This is the second story published by CD News that was generated from this blog and it is only fair that we get a better idea of who they are. The best I can do is: http://seattletransitblog.com/who-we-are/

    The area around 3rd and Marion and Madison is not a destination. This means to get anywhere all #2 bus riders from the CD and Madarona would be transferring somewhere downtown. I assume that a vast majority of #2 riders coming from the direction of Madrona to downtown are all going someplace else once they arrive downtown, such as the retail core, Pike Place Market, Belltown, Queen Anne theater areas, and others.

    Many coming from both directions are going to Virgina Mason. Under this proposal number #2 would no longer serve Virgina Mason (a major service provider and employer), especially or Horizon House. Why not propose getting rid of the the 2 express.

    If the people who propose this believe that all should transfer to get to main destinations. Then let all buses that come to 3rd and Yesler stop so that the riders can transfer to the light rail to get downtown. Let all the UW buses stop at the tunnel so every one can transfer. Queen Anne buses stop around Virgina Street and riders can transfer to get to the retail core or the Benroya Hall. Let no bus pass into the downtown core. Is this what we really want transferring for every single trip to get to any main destination.

    I also…
    read more
    ecked on another discussion that I had attempted to have with this group regarding the #4. The people who run the blog insisted that the the bus stop on third headed north from James was not used much. I checked and currently it serves as a stop for about 12 different buses and is not a stop for any of the trolleys. The nearest stop for a trolley is at Columbia and 3rd. Remember Metro has staggered the stops on 3rd in order to keep things moving. Also the #2 serves as a main way for metro riders to get to the downtown library head up the hill at Seneca. If the #2 were to go up Marion the stop is at the bottom of the hill. While I am not saying it could not be moved, the current stop is well designed for all to use and I didn’t see an easy place to put one going up the hill on Marion. I don’t think you are getting much bang for your buck here and in the meantime you seem to be picking on one area of town. I could contemplate a #2 that went from Madrona along its current route to Mercer on Queen Anne. Then the other Queen Anne buse riders could all plan to transfer to various buses near Seattle Center.

    I note that many riders exit and enter the #2 at Broadway, Virginia Mason and Horizon House, Central Library, Downtown Core, Belltown and Seattle Center area and is well used.

    I see no desire from any of their voices desiring to work with communities for solutions. Do they have any respect for the mass transit users? Again buses can go fast by not going anywhere really useful or even by not stopping anywhere or they can attempt to go efficiently to the places we need to go.

  4. “I think it is time to fact check who the transit bloggers represent and how much of their information is really complete.”

    You’ve yet to seriously challenge any of the facts or analysis that I’ve presented. All of your objections have been shot down.

    “Remember every time anyone goes to the blog they make money from their adds.”

    Thanks for questioning my motives. I’ve never been paid a penny for anything I’ve done or written on STB.

    “This means to get anywhere all #2 bus riders from the CD and Madarona would be transferring somewhere downtown.”

    Yes, just like riders on the 10, 12, 14, and 43 currently have to transfer if they want to continue to Queen Anne, riders on the 2 will now have to do the same. This doesn’t seem to pose a problem for those riders and I’m sure riders on the 2 will cope just fine. For 2 riders who want to go to the Pike Place/Westlake or the International district, there is copious service on 3rd Ave to get you around downtown.

    “Under this proposal number #2 would no longer serve Virgina Mason”

    The 2 would pass two (flat) blocks south of Virginia Mason. Incidentally, VM is planning to expand to the south in the next few years, so the 2 will likely still provide front-door service to VM once that change is complete.

    “I note that many riders exit and enter the #2 at Broadway, Virginia Mason and Horizon House, Central Library, Downtown Core, Belltown and Seattle Center area and is well used. “

    All of these destinations would still be served.

    “I see no desire from any of their voices desiring to work with communities for solutions.”

    I emailed this post to CD News precisely because I wanted to hear what people in the neighborhood thought.

  5. get to a real destination in the downtown core, not dumped so that they will have to transfer. Many along the 43 route have access to Queen Anne via the #8 and there is a special bus that runs from the U to Queen Anne. I guess other areas also want access to Queen Anne. The 49 or the the 43 could terminate on Broadway and transfer to get downtown, especially after the light rail station opens at John and Broadway. After the light rail station opens in the next few years in fact they could both terminate there. It is true that I am saying that to some extent in defense of my position that you are not fairly evaluating these situations. Nonetheless, I am not sure why that would not be a better case of cutting than the ones you propose.

    The north side of Virginia Mason would not be served even if it develops south. and that is still years in the making. Why provide direct service to areas without the major centers. Marion and Madison around 3rd again is not a major destination. Horizon House is a huge complex also served around 9th and Seneca in conjunction with the the north side of Virginia Mason. Exactly which objections have been shot down. You simply don’t answer my questions and have a different view of the situation. I think many #2 riders are headed for the downtown core and Belltown. Why should ferry riders, Capitol Hill, and the U get more service to downtown and Queen Anne than the #2 riders?

  6. “Many along the 43 route have access to Queen Anne via the #8”

    You mean the same 8 that also goes through the Central District to Queen Anne?

    “The north side of Virginia Mason would not be served even if it develops south.”

    That’s why hospitals have skybridges. We don’t need a bus at each end of a hospital.

    “Exactly which objections have been shot down.”


  7. Since you are looking to shoot down and not necessarily answer concerns or rethink any of your ideas, and I get grumpy, the conversation becomes somewhat unproductive. I had questions when I first moved here and over the years when I interacted with Metro I have found with few exceptions that there is usually a reason why certain routes were designed in the want that they were. However, light rail and other changes will probably be a force for changing some routes and service delivery models in some areas. Light rail does not do as good a job of serving neighborhoods as buses, but connections to the rail will probably change some service. You bring up Capitol Hill and don’t respond to questions about how the buses on Broadway aren’t more redundant than the ones you take on. Yes, regular riders are protective of their services with good reason.
    1.You said that there wasn’t competition for bus stops between Yesler and James, and yet when I checked it out there was a lot competition.
    2.Walking up a steep hill from third or walking along 5th Avenue to James have been the only access you have offered for access to the City government buildings. Oddly I cannot remember how 5th Avenue connects Yesler and James, and when I look at Google maps there is a caution regarding that there may not be sidewalks or that there may be barriers in that walk.
    3.You have not acknowledged that the 3 and 4 do a pretty good job of delivering that service.
    4. You haven’t answered the questions about why #2 bus riders are being singled out for having to transfer to get to any destination.
    5. Check…
    read more
    t the infrastructure around the Central Library that has been the result of the interaction between the #2 trolley and the new building to be able to accommodate many. Your plan would not improve access to the Central Library and also its events.
    6. You and I have very different views regarding the north side of Virginia Mason. First many major institutions deserve to be served on several different sides. Some examples are University of Seattle, University of Washington, the Swedish complexes, and community colleges. I note that express buses for the Virginia Mason are also served at the 9th and Seneca stop. It is very different to say that in some years that VM will expand south and use that to justify moving the entire access to that side.
    7. You have not persuaded me that your proposal offers me, my neighbors, the employees and service users at VM, residents of Horizon House any improved service. Exactly who you are trying to serve here is a bit unclear.
    5. The #2 is another point of access for the north side of Swedish and the Poly Clinic and to Seattle Central.
    6. The #8 is a bus route designed especially to give the South End and Madison Valley more access to Capitol Hill and to Queen Anne and Broadway more access to Queen Anne. It is a more recent addition whose purpose was stated as I have stated above. Yes, it can be useful, but MLK is a north south route which is very useful for those that it was designed to serve, and not so much for many others. I believe that you will find the major points served by that bus to be outside of the Union/Cherry/Jefferson corridor.

  8. This question is regarding your proposed changes to the #4 bus route and crossing Rainier Avenue to access the stops. Has anyone checked with the city about how need changes could be made? What are they? What would be involved? Why haven’t they been made before this? My only other comment is that probably the most productive use of time and thought would be to analyze how current routes and the neighborhoods and destination points be integrated with the new light rail stations to better connect us with the destinations and with each other. Are there ways in light of the street car on Broadway and light rail station there and at the U to help us all connect well? Neighborhoods need connections not to just the really major destinations but with each other and to neighborhood shopping, schools and services.

  9. These are just preliminary Metro discussions…my understanding is this is the transit blog writer (independent blog) and their analysis of how that would impact our area. Don’t get too excited. Metro takes forever to do anything.

  10. Liz is correct that it is an independent blog with sort of a specific theory of transit that they advocate. Since the bloggers are pretty passionate and do advocacy based on their figures and desires, I think it is somewhat valuable to be informed about some of their thoughts and view their blog. They don’t work for Metro. However, you can call metro or provide your thoughts on some of the proposals or on your own at:

    There is also a metro directory where you can find transit planning to call if you little more information.

  11. Went down and strolled around the area. It actually wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. Just looking at a map, I figured a few dozen yards of new crosswalk and a new/upgraded signal or two would be helpful. I also assumed the 8 would have the most convenient stop. In fact, it’s the 7/9/42/48, and the walking routes are pretty accessible.

    I timed my walk from LftB to the bus stops on MLK and the bus stops on Rainier. I intentionally walked slower than usual and paused at any pavement breaks I thought might be disorienting to the visually impaired (as a layman, I tried to err on the side of pausing. I also took a cell-phone video of the walking paths at the same time, and saved it in case anyone wants to review it.

    First I checked out the path from the Lighthouse for the Blind to the #8 stops on MLK, which is a frequent cross-town route connecting Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and the entire MLK corridor down to Rainier Beach. Originally, I assumed the fastest way would be to cross MLK right at Plum, which has no signal, and plum has very poor sidewalks. But when I went and looked closer, the bus stops are actually right on the corner of MLK & Walker, which already has a full “chirping” traffic signal. So I plotted a friendlier path using 25th and Walker to reach the stop instead of Plum and MLK. The only potential problem I saw there was where a driveway on Walker crossed the sidewalk. The sidewalk didn’t match up from one side of the driveway to another – walking in a straight line across would unexpectedly put you on the SHA lawn. Not really a safety concern, but definitely an inconvenience. A few yards from the driveway, the sidewalk passes through a narrow gap between a utility pole and it’s diagonal support wire – a tall person walking on the edge of the sidewalk could hit their head on it (at 5’9″, it caused no trouble for me).

    The total walk to the furthest stop (northbound) took me 5 minutes 2 seconds, including 15 seconds of waiting at a traffic light to cross MLK. There’s no street crossing required to get to/from the southbound stop. All in all, I think it’s ready to go. There’s a slight slope up to MLK, but it’s pretty moderate by Seattle standards, maybe equivalent to half a flight of stairs spaced over a quarter block.

    Then I checked out the path to the bigger stops on Rainier, which have frequent service to Downtown, the U-District, and the Rainier corridor south to Rainier Beach, as well as infrequent (half-hour) all-day service to Capitol Hill via Broadway. The stops are closer to Walker, but there’s a signalized crossing at Hill. Using the signal to get to/from the southbound stops adds just a touch of walking distance, due to Rainier’s diagonal angle, but is much safer and easier for all pedestrians. This crossing is really the only issue on this walking path.

    It’s a huge 6 sided intersection with some unusual angles where 23rd, Rainier, and Hill all meet. If you enter the crosswalk from the east side of Rainier and walk perpendicular to the curb, you will end missing the opposite sidewalk by several yards and walking into oncoming traffic on 23rd Ave. However, it is equipped with a “chirping” signal, and while I was there I happened to witness a blind man make the crossing without straying from the marked crosswalk (I presume wayfinding by the sounds of the signal and traffic), which absolutely blew me away. However, the light cycle for pedestrians is very short on this one. There’s absolutely no way a slow walker can make this light. I think it’s incorrectly calibrated, perhaps because the installers didn’t take into account the angled crosswalk, or maybe it’s set for a 4 lane crossing instead of a 6 lane crossing. SDOT needs to fix this no matter what Metro does with the bus routes, and I’ll fill out a comment form on it tonight.

    The total walk from the furthest stop (southbound) took me 4 minutes and 45 seconds, including only 5 seconds waiting at a traffic light to cross Rainier. The northbound stop doesn’t require crossing any major streets. All this stop needs to be fully accessible is an adjustment to the traffic light timing for slow walkers. I’d feel better if there were a couple rows of raised dots along the edges of the crosswalks to assist the blind, but from what I saw it’s probably unnecessary.

  12. You’re right, Liz, no one at STB is doing planning for Metro. But Bruce et al are getting plenty of data from Metro, and at least in the CD what he’s posting is pretty well in agreement with what Metro’s planners are thinking.

    Change is never simple or easy, but I think the sum of the proposed changes would get us more frequent and reliable service for a longer portion of the day, at the expense of a little more walking for some folks and more transfers (but with less wait between them) for others.

  13. Transferring is a big deal, as it requires the connections not only to be planned well, but to go well. What could have been another 5 minutes on bus could turn into another 20 minutes. Ending the #2, for instance before it gets to any great destination, the retail core or lower Queen Anne would be a waste of a great basic route. Remember that middle and high school students are using buses these days and transferring always adds head aches for the families and the District.