Community Post

Improving Route 2 in the Central District and First Hill

In light of the lively discussion around proposed changes to the #2, I thought folks might be interested in reading another perspective (on the potential benefits of the changes) over at the Seattle Transit blog (

EDITOR’S UPDATE: Here are some of the reasons STB’s Bruce Nourish lists supporting the changes to the #2 (which he described as one of the best aspects of Metro’s proposed changes:

  • Frequency of service to the Central District will remain unchanged, while frequency from Downtown to First Hill will double.
  • Destinations on Seneca are a flat, two-block walk further from Madison.
  • Should make Route 2 very reliable.
  • The City of Seattle’s Transportation Master Plan calls for rapid trolleybus service on Madison.
  • Avoiding lane-blocking turns from 3rd Ave improves the speed and reliability of all routes on 3rd Ave.
  • Makes the transit system easier to understand.

Read the post for Nourish’s reasoning behind each of the points.

37 thoughts on “Improving Route 2 in the Central District and First Hill

  1. That was a really helpfull article. Makes very good sense. If Metro can make changes like this and keep improving. Someday I might stop suggesting we just shut them down.

  2. After listening to others and giving some thought what is a reasonable conversation and the use of language and terms that may or may not have meaning, there are some other ways to express different points of view to be considered. Many of the current trolley system and other historic inner city routes are among the most productive routes in the Metro system and carry a huge chunk of transit users. (The current #2 is the fifth most productive route in Metro.) Many prefer a ride that comes every 10 to 15 minutes and arrives at the destination they desire rather than having to transfer from a ride that come every seven minutes. Offered a choice most would chose the every 15 minute route that does not require a transfer. It is easy to plan around these current schedules.

    Also these are historic routes where for decades the infrastructure and transit dependent development have been placed and have come together in an important way that serves many transit users. Many of the destinations named in earlier posts reflect this development that will not be well-served under the current proposal and is best served by the current structure of the system. Also what some may consider the odd little ends of some of the routes actually serve a purpose and eliminating them creates a new problem that may need yet a new solution and does not really provide that many additional bus hours.

    The current proposal may offer advantages for the rapid ride and for some on a short and limited portion of the Madison corridor but offers practically no benefits for the vast majority of current users along these historic and productive routes. These rather organically…veloped together and it would be very difficult to in any way replace the organic relationship between the two and to develop a better system.

  3. I think Grumbo’s last post on another thread about all of us just walking everywhere actually makes sense for many of us here around 23rd or 20th and E. Union or for those along Seneca if the proposal remains the same. We don’t need or deserve direct access to anything under the proposal.

  4. I’m glad to see this change getting some publicity although I seriously doubt that the only negative for these changes are that “riders to westlake have to walk 6 blocks or transfer for uptown or belltown”.

    There are many more problems associated with this proposal.

    Metro planners are not stupid: Clearly there are some good reasons to make this change. However, I am not convinced that these changes consider the needs of the current users and warrant the change.

    I am still waiting for Metro to start publicizing these changes to the current users.

  5. I really can’t see the inconvenience of having these nice clean lines that are easy to follow, easy to transfer, improve traffic flow. The current bus system is nonsense, wasteful, and obstructive. These common sense approaches need a shot. Otherwise we need get a stranglehold on the thing and not let go.

    Look, I’m not just against busses. I’m against all kinds of dim witted bloated dinosars. Let’s kill something together. It’s OK as long as you eat it.

  6. I can’t even look at that. How much was that consultant paid? I will not read anything that offensive to the eyes. It’s really horrible. I’m scarred.

  7. I’m sorry, but this chart gives us a distorted picture. The title is “Average Weekday Ridership,” which apparently the average number of riders per route. But it is not normalized for the number of trips in each route.

    Example: What is the number one route on this chart? The 48. But you would expect a large number of riders on the longest route in the city, one that runs every 15 minutes until the evening.

    Example: What is the last route ranked on this chart? The 74. If you look at the timetable for the 74, it runs only eight inbound trips in the morning and nine outbound trips in the evening – commuting hours only. I have a friend who takes the 74, and his complaint is that the 74 is consistently full, squeezing passengers in, turning others away, and driving by waiting passengers with buses filled to capacity.

    A better chart would show the average number of weekday riders divided by the number of trips on each route. That is a better measure of “productivity.”

  8. and if you click on the graphic you can see the ratings more clearly by clicking on the image and using the magnifier.

  9. Often when the data is pretty it has been altered to make it look a certain way and to spin one story. The whole story is more complex. Certainly the second post with data from Metro is not raw data. Nonetheless, it does allow one to check on some of the claims and is current as of 2010.

  10. I couldn’t disagree more with Bruce Nourish, and Joanna has beat me to the punch why. I built my house in 1989 on the No. 2 bus route precisely because the bus takes me to work and back, which the new route will not. I am unable to drive for medical reasons and rely on that bus. You will never get transit-oriented development if people can’t count on it staying put. Oppose these changes!

  11. Won’t click thru to STB:

    It’s nothing but a bunch of smug straight rich white boys who like to play town planner, but refuse to admit other people’s lives and experiences aren’t their own.

  12. Nothing but a bunch of rich white boys? Really? Bus service from Madison to Eastlake now has something to do with racism, eletism, and intolerance.

    Take a good look in the mirror. You are way off message and driven by silly un-acknowledged flaws.

    Now don’t go get your undies bunched up. My flaws are fully acknowledged.

  13. If you live east of 14th Avenue, this restructuring will put you at a disadvantage unless you are going to a location within one block of Marion or Madison Streets. This will not increase the #2 bus frequency east of 14th Avenue; the frequency improvement is only for the part through First Hill by the hospitals and into Downtown.

    If you use a wheelchair, you will not be able to reasonably ride into Downtown on either route. Both routes would only use Madison and Marion; every single stop Downtown will be on a steep grade. Today, both routes have flat stops somewhere Downtown near the bus tunnel.

    I have to admit Mike has a good point, although it’s not as much about racism as it is white collar government elitism. The whole transit restructuring strategy appears to favor of encouraging service to/from gentrifying areas. (You know, those areas where larger homes that house extended families are torn down in favor of cookie cutter townhouses or condos where only single, white-collar people would want to live; the “housing density” gets higher but the true population density doesn’t really change.) The primary benefit with this proposal are for people who work in near the Madison/Marion corridor and want to get to the doctor or to the ferry! It’s not for us Central District residents.

  14. I shared these so that everyone can have the same information. Number of riders may not answer all questions, but it gives a snapshot of how many transit supporters lives potentially will be touched by changes and gives some snapshot of usefulness.

  15. Platform hour is defined below. This summary does account for the numbers per coach. The second link below will give us all the Metro speak.

    Platform (Vehicle) Hours: The number of hours buses are on the road for a given route. This includes revenue time, layover time and deadhead time.
    Passenger miles/platform mile: A platform mile is analogous to a platform hour: a mile traveled by a bus after leaving the base whether deadheading or in service; so this is essentially the average occupancy of the bus, including those miles when the bus is deadheading and its occupancy is presumed to be zero. This metric properly accounts for the full cost of service and efficiency of route design, as well as providing a fair comparison of routes with differing lengths and running speeds.

  16. I can’t remember when the light rail service to the airport began. Was it before or after these 2009 data? I’m looking at the #48, of course.

  17. Our light rail began carrying passengers on July 18, 2009. My understanding is that the data is for the current configuration of the #48.

  18. That’s always been the case. Nothing new…don’t know why people are surprised; the few that commented.

  19. Both are true. I believe the #48 route was reconfigured for the Central Link opening. I could be mistaken that that did not occur until December. Central Link opened between Westlake and Tukwila on July 18, 2009 and was extended to SeaTac/Airport on December 19, 2009.

  20. We still don’t have any data on how many passengers cross from 4S to 4N. Metro seems to measure them as seperate routes. And are now moving to run a modified 4S only. With 4N being absorbed by other routes. I’m willing to bet they have good reason for this. In the absence of data on passengers utilizing the complete route, I have no reason to question Metro’s decision. Other than anecdotal rantings. There – I’ve gone an done it. Invalidating peoples opinions because they are un-authoratative, simplistice, silly, bafoonish. Actually this neanderthalish clinging to the old clumsy bus system is an embarrasment to the CD. We will only listen if you have a degree in urban planning from Western State Hospital and actually work for a corrupt goverment agency.

  21. I have now evaluated all the evidence and determined that #4 is the antichrist. It must be banished entirely. As an educated white male of reasonalbe income, I am in the best position to judge these things for us all. Nothing more can be said other than nearly all of the other lines need some sort of re-alignment, shortening, untangling. What kind of people made this spagetti? We want potatos or rice. Not any kind of pasta. Stick to bread you Italians.

  22. Let’s say that this graph is to be used as our information to help decide what to cut. Is it useful? Let’s say it is. (It isn’t). But, this was trotted out as meaningful. So. We must cut 25%. Start by taking out the bottom 25% of routes. Elimenate them. But, still not enough. We could then take out the #4. That would get us to the 25% solution that everybody wants.

  23. The CD will not be hurt by the changes. A few uptight bus riders will adapt and quit complaining after 13 months. The rest of us will have a minute imcremental decrease in the future tax increases. We will experience improved traffic flow. Normal people will be able to choose bus service – because the route will be intuitive. From here to there in a straight line, faster and better than before. As it is now I would never ride a route like this. Snaking all over, taking twice as long. I can out walk the thing. Virtually everybody will appreciate the change other than an extremist minority that want curb to curb service to their pet places. Call Oprah and see if she can help. The rest of us want an efficient system. (or none at all).

  24. But I don’t understand how moving the #2 off of Seneca is a good idea. Seneca has less traffic, is wider, closer to a major hospital (VM). It also just makes better sense to spread the routes out, doesn’t it? If I want to go to Seattle Central, Pike/Pine or South Broadway, it makes better sense. Why is that changing?

  25. If you’re on the stretch of Madison between 15th and downtown (part of a high capacity corridor identified in Seattle’s Transit Master Plan) then you’d much rather have multiple routes on Madison rather than spreading them out. That way you can go to one stop and know that a bus will come by very soon, be it the #12 or the #2 (and you don’t care which as long as either one goes to your destination or to an “easy” transfer to your destination). With buses coming that frequently (ideally ever 7.5 minutes during peak hours), you don’t even need a schedule (since your average wait time is less than 4 minutes).

    In general, you’d like to identify key transit “spines” that have a lot of demand on them and have buses funnel in/out of those spines from different endpoints so the spines benefit from frequent, “don’t care about the schedule” service. Spreading routes out defeats this purpose.

    A lot of other rationale for this proposed change can be found on the multiple threads on this topic on both CDN and Seattle Transit Blog (many of which are also articulated at the top of this post).

  26. Those desiring more frequency west of 12th on Madison to 1st or the ferries will benefit from this proposal. Most along east union east of 12th will not benefit.

  27. Not only will we not benefit (those of us east of 12th), we will lose much of what currently makes the route useful to us.