The fall service changes are coming to transit agencies across the Puget Sound this Saturday. King County Metro Transit is due to see the largest service boosts and improvements. The agency will be adjusting schedules, adding trips, revising some routes, and improving the Night Owl network. A full 300,000 new annual service hours will be added to help implement the changes, which translates to 240 additional trips across the network each weekday. Saturdays and Sundays will get 100 and 153 more trips each week, respectively. The service improvements are made possible by contributions from the City of Seattle (via the Seattle Transportation Benefit District) and buoying revenues in a recovered economy.
The service changes can be categorized into three general areas:
- Night Owl service. Night Owl service runs from about midnight to 5am. Metro will unleash a massive reform of the Night Owl network with the elimination of the spaghetti Routes 82, 83, and 84 and reinvestment in extending and adding service on regular all-day routes. Much of the Night Owl service change is funded by the City of Seattle. A total of 18 routes will form the Night Owl network, which serves cities outside of Seattle like Bothell, Federal Way, Renton, and Burien. The following routes form the Night Owl network (those with an asterisk are getting more service): 3*, 5*, 7, 11*, 36, 44*, 48*, 49, 65,* 67*, 70*, 120, 124, 180, and the RapidRide A, C*, D*, and E* Lines. Additionally, Route 124 will be extended to Sea-Tac Airport.
- Added service to reduce crowding. Metro will add trips on some Seattle routes to reduce crowding. These trips will go to the Routes 28, 40, and RapidRide C, D, and E Lines.
- Adding service generally for span and frequency. A mix of Seattle and suburban routes will get added service to improve span and frequency, including on weekends. These trips will go to Routes 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 40, 41, 44, 48, 50, 60, 65, 67, 70, 120, 131, 169, 269, 301, 316, and RapidRide C, D, and E Lines.
Some of the service additions are significant benefiting communities in Seattle, South King County (Burien, White Center, Renton, and Kent), and East King County (Redmond, Sammamish, and Issaquah). Specifically, changes to Routes 50, 60, 65, 67, 131, 169, and 269 are notable:
- Route 50 will receive a dozen new evening trips to ensure that a minimum frequency of 30 minutes is maintained seven days a week until midnight. The route operates between Othello Station and Alki in West Seattle.
- Route 60 will receive 24 new trips on weekdays ensuring that buses arrive every 15 minutes from 6am to 7pm. This is an improvement from service every 30 minutes. The route runs between White Center and Capitol Hill via South Park and Beacon Hill.
- Route 65 will be upgraded to service every 10 minutes from 6pm to 7pm on weekdays. The route runs from Lake City to the University District via Wedgwood.
- Route 67 will similarly be upgraded to service every 10 minutes from 6pm to 7pm on weekdays. The route runs from Northgate via Wedgwood and forms a portion of the future trunk of the Roosevelt RapidRide line.
- Route 131 will receive additional trips between 6.30am and 9.30am on weekdays in the northbound direction ensuring that buses arrive every 15 minutes. The route runs between Burien and Downtown Seattle via Highland Park, South Park, and SoDo.
- Route 169 will get 50 new trips each weekday ensuring that buses arrive every 15 minutes from 6.30am to 6.30pm, which is a doubling of frequency. The route connects the city centers for Kent and Renton via East Hill and Valley Medical Center. This route is planned to become a future RapidRide corridor.
- Route 269 will receive a significant boost in trips allowing the service to become an all-day route operating every 30 minutes from 7am to 6.30pm. In the midday period, there is currently a lack service gap. The route operates between Redmond and Issaquah via Sammamish.
Metro also will make some modest tweaks to how routes operate. This will affect Routes 21, 27, 56, 60, 62, 106, 124, 128, 216, 218, 219, 304, 355, 628, 630, and RapidRide D. Some of these routes are affected by construction, local needs, and ease of operation. A few of them rise to mentioning:
- Route 62 will be greatly improved with streamlined operations in Downtown Seattle and fixing the tail near Magnuson Park. Near Pioneer Square, Route 62 currently jogs toward the ferry docks to provide more direct service for riders before operating on the Third Avenue transitway. It also provides direct service to First Avenue and Second Avenue in Pioneer Square. The reroute would generally put service on Third Avenue. Another change will improve service to communities near Magnuson Park on weekends and when NOAA is closed. The current service pattern is highly confusing and inconvenient to riders near the northeastern tail of Route 62. Last year, Ryan Packer penned a piece decrying the service pattern. Metro will institute a new loop provides consistent service near Magnuson Park.
- Route 106 will be adjusted near Mount Baker Transit Center to remain on Rainier Ave S instead of making turns off of the street briefly to S McCllelan St and S Stevens St to serve the transit center. This should shave off a little time from operations and means that buses will no longer stop at Bay 3 in the transit center.
- Routes 60 and 124 will be adjusted in Georgetown by operating on Corson Ave S instead of Carleton Ave S. This will save operators the challenge of navigating two neighborhood traffic circles. However, it also means that the unique couplet that buses operate in the neighborhood will be further separated by additional block. Additionally, Route 124 will get a small adjustment in Chinatown, which means buses operate exclusively on 6th Ave S instead of 4th Ave S in the southbound direction.
A few other random changes include the deletion of Route 601 and elimination of flexible dial-a-ride service near the mall in Auburn. Route 601 is a custom route designed to serve Group Health (Kaiser Permanente) in Tukwila. However, this will no longer be necessary since the RapidRide F Line will provide local service at the new location in Renton. Additionally, the flexible service near the mall in Auburn will be eliminated in favor of simple fixed route service.
The changes will go into effect on Saturday, September 23rd.
Stephen is a professional urban planner in Puget Sound with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. With stints in great cities like Bellingham and Cork, Stephen currently lives in Seattle. He primarily covers land use and transportation issues and has been with The Urbanist since 2014.