King County Metro’s proposed restructure of bus service in the North Eastside will go into effect next year. On Wednesday, the King County Council approved the proposal with minor changes. The restructure means consolidation of some routes, but generally maintaining the same coverage of the service area. Span of service and frequency will also improve for rider. However, several routes will be deleted and replaced.

Deleted services include Routes 234, 235, 236, 238, 243, 244, 248, 277, 540, and 541. In their place, Metro and Sound Transit will create new Routes 225, 230, 231, 239, 250, and 544 (the latter of which will be an ST Express route).

Existing service structure in North East King County. (King County)
Existing service structure in North East King County. (King County)

With the proposed restructure, several corridors will lose service entirely, including:

  • NE 116th St between 98th Ave NE and 124th Ave NE in Kirkland;
  • A small portion of Redmond Town Center;
  • A portion of NE 80th St in Kirkland;
  • A portion of 120th Ave NE and NE 180th St in Woodinville;
  • A small portion of NE 68th St in Kirkland;
  • A segment of 148th Ave NE and NE 36th St in Redmond; and
  • A short portion of 124th Ave NE near The Village at Totem Lake.
Proposed service structure in North East King County. (King County)
Revised service structure in North East King County. (King County)

So with deletions in mind, the restructure will shake out as follows:

  • New Route 225 will operate between Kenmore and Overlake via Kingsgate and Totem Lake. This route blends together portions of Routes 234, 238, and 244. It will run every day with half-hourly service morning and afternoon on weekdays and hourly on weeknights. Weekend service will be hourly. Span of service will be fairly expansive for a suburban route.
  • New Route 230 will operated between Bothell and Downtown Kirkland, primarily via 100th Ave NE. This will bring new service to the eastern part of Kenmore and southern Bothell. The route will taken in parts of Routes 236, 238, and 244, which are slated for deletion. It will run at the same level of span of service and frequency as new Route 225.
  • New Route 231 will operate between Woodinville and Downtown Kirkland, primarily Juanita-Woodinville Way NE and 100th Ave NE. This route will blend together portions of Routes 236, 238, and 244. It will run at the same level of span of service and frequency as new Route 225.
  • New Route 239 will operate between UW Bothell and Downtown Kirkland via Downtown Bothell and Kingsgate, primarily along 124th Ave NE. The route will blend together portions of Routes 235, 238, and 255. The route will run every day with half-hourly service morning and afternoon on weekdays and hourly to half-hourly on weeknights. On weekends, service will run half-hourly. Span of service will be fairly expansive for a suburban route, particularly late at night.
  • New Route 250 will operate between Bellevue and Avondale in Redmond via South Kirkland, Downtown Kirkland, and Downtown Redmond. Service woll primarily run along Avondale Rd NE, Redmond Way, NE 85th St, Lakeview Dr NE, Northrup Way NE, and 116th Ave NE. The route will run every day with 15-minute frequencies service morning and afternoon on weekdays and half-hourly on weeknights. On weekends, service will run half-hourly. Span of service will be fairly expansive for a suburban route, particularly late at night.
  • New Route 544 will replace Routes 540 and 541 to create a consolidated route operating between South Lake Union and Overlake via SR-520 and the Microsoft campus in Redmond. The route will be an ST Express service and only run during weekday peak hours with frequency ranging between every 12 and 15 minutes. The route will deviate from SR-520 to serve the South Kirkland Park-and-Ride for connectivity to other local routes.
  • Route 255 will be revised by terminating all service at University of Washington Station and Totem Lake Transit Center. This should save riders time to and from Downtown Seattle by transferring to Link light rail as well as conserve service hours spent in traffic and extending service to Brickyard Park-and-Ride. Weekends and nighttime service frequency will double and peak hour frequencies could see some improvements.
  • Route 545 will be revised to no longer stop in Capitol Hill. This only will affect eastbound service.
  • Route 930 will be adjusted to provide all-day, half-hourly service (6am to 7pm) with changes to dial-a-ride flexibility areas in the Sammamish River Valley.

In addition to adjustments to routes and creation of new routes, Metro plans to launch on-demand service for some of the Eastside communities. Community Ride service will be added for portions of Kenmore, Bothell, and Woodinville. The service in Kenmore and South Bothell will run on weekdays while service in Downtown Bothell and Woodinville will run on weekends only. A Community Van service will also be launched in Kirkland.

Concept of how the Montlake Triangle could be modified to enhance bus-to-Link connections. (King County / Sound Transit / City of Seattle)

To support the changes to Route 255 in serving University of Washington Station, Metro plans to improve bus stops at the Montlake Triangle by bringing them closer to the station itself. This would help reduce walking time connections, especially for Eastside riders catching a train to Downtown Seattle. The redesign would move many buses that operate on NE Pacific St to Montlake Blvd NE and NE Pacific Pl. Signal changes and new bus lanes would be made to implement the improvements.

The restructure will go into effect at the March 2020 service change.

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  1. This makes service to/from Kirkland much slower and less convenient. Particularly midday, evenings, weekends. Those are all times that the direct bus is fast, but Montlake Bridge & Blvd is simply a crapshoot, whether congested or a bridge opening. Generally the time between on the freeway between Montlake & Olive/Stewart streets is under 10 minutes. There simply is no possibility of any time savings by making an unnecessary deviation across the Montlake Bridge, and then dealing with 3 sets of unreliable escalators. This is a raw deal for Kirkland riders. It’s much worse than the NE Seattle restructures which were along the line of travel and did not add in bridge openings.

  2. These changes are terrible for the vast majority of route 255 riders, including riders from downtown Kirkland and the S. Kirkland P&R. They are especially terrible during off peak times (mid-days, evenings, and all day weekends.) It is a total farce to say that the transfer at Montlake will save time for anyone, but that’s especially true off-peak, when a bus leaving downtown only takes about 15 minutes to get to S. Kirkland. That’s not enough time to even enter a Link station downtown, get a train, and then ascend the three long escalators at UW Station. To say nothing about two sets of waits for a vehicle instead of one. Further, have you encountered the traffic mess that is Montlake Blvd and the Montlake Bridge? It is backed up at all kinds of times. And then there are Montlake Bridge openings, events at Husky stadium (not just football games, but races, basketball, graduations, etc.) All of a sudden every direct trip to downtown has a new source of unreliability thrown into the mix. This makes Kirkland and S. Kirkland the only major Eastside cities that don’t have a fast, reliable, direct trip downtown. Bothell keeps the 522 downtown. Redmond has the great 545. Bellevue has the 550. Issaquah the 554. Kirkland gets the short straw again. Oh, and the buses existing at Stewart St provide an easy walk to almost all of SLU. Access to SLU is gone. Even Olive St is closer to SLU and Amazonia. And the S. Kirkland P&R – now useless to head to downtown Seattle evenings and weekends. A 15 minute bus ride home will turn into a 45 minute trip with 10-minute Link service transferring to infrequent and not coordinated 255 service.

    • Routes 544 and 545 provide the SLU service you’re lamenting. The Montlake Triangle connection will still be inconsistent even with the planned Metro improvements, but once WSDOT completes work with the interchange and street, access should be greatly improved and boon for riders. You’re greatly exaggerating downsides to the restructure.

      • The 545 doesn’t serve Kirkland. I don’t know what the 544 will do, but if it serves S Kirkland, then it’s not good for Redmond riders, as the deviation will not be fast, and if it doesn’t then it’s not serving any of Kirkland.

        • OK – just read that the 544 will serve S Kirkland. That’s still not serving the rest of Kirkland and becomes largely redundant with the revised 255. Most Redmond riders will be better served by just using the 545. The 544 is doomed to be a low ridership route.

      • You clearly don’t live in Kirkland and commute to multiple locations in Seattle. Kirkland got screwed. I wonder if it’s not because of the SOS contingency taking away the ERC as bus rapid transit.

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