Metro to Roll Out Later Service, Expand 15- and 30-Minute Frequency September 21st


Later this month, King County Metro will roll out more bus service for the tenth time since 2015. Top line improvements include a doubling of transit service for five routes in South King County, expanding 10-minute frequency on the RapidRide E Line, and more 15-minute frequency on seven other Seattle routes. Metro attributes much of the service improvements to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, which span 200 additional trips every weekday, 200 extra trips on Sundays, and 150 more trips on Saturdays.

“Adding nearly 1,400 new bus trips each week will make it easier to travel in downtown Seattle and across the county,” said King County Dow Executive Constantine in a press release. “With this latest service expansion, we’re doubling frequency on five of our most popular routes in south King County. Transit means access to opportunity, and we’ve added buses to meet rider demand for the last ten semi-annual service changes, making sure every resident can get to work, school, and all this region has to offer.”

RapidRide E Line will benefit from an additional 23 trips on weekdays, which will result in schedule changes. These will help improve service to provide more hours of 10-minute frequency, particularly in the evening, and make more periods of the day even more frequent that every 10 minutes. On Saturdays, an additional two trips will be added in the late evening hours to improve frequency and result in some schedule changes.

Routes 105, 164, 183, 346, and 906 will be improved to have consistent 30-minute service or better:

  • Route 105 will get an additional 32 trips on Sundays, which will convert hourly service to half hourly service across the majority of the day.
  • Route 164 will get an additional 21 trips on Saturdays, which will improve frequency to every half hour. Another eight trips will be added each weekday improving frequency, particularly in the evening.
  • Route 183 will receive 20 additional trips on Saturdays from mid-morning to early evening, which will allow service to be improved to 30-minute frequency.
  • Route 346 will benefit from an extra six trips on weekdays to improve evening service to 30-minute frequency. For a portion of the route, there is a shared corridor with Route 345 to and from Northgate Transit Center. Schedules will be adjusted to provide combined 15-minute frequency along that corridor segment.
  • Route 906 will get another 10 trips in the peak-morning and peak-afternoon timeframes, which will improve service during those time period to half hourly frequency.

Routes 1, 14, 21, 40, 41, 65, 67, and 120 will also see expanded 15-minute frequency:

  • Routes 1 and 14 will receive an additional 22 trips on weekdays, which will improve service to 15-minute frequency from 6am to 7pm. Both routes are through-routed.
  • Route 21 will get extra tips on Saturday to improve service from 8pm to 10pm with 15-minute frequency.
  • Route 41 will get an additional 21 trips on Sundays, five more trips on Saturdays, and another eight trips on weekdays. The extra Sunday trips will expand 15-minute frequency.
  • Routes 65 and 67 will get an extra 40 trips on Sundays, nine trips each weekday, and eight trips on Saturdays. With the addition of trips, the hours of 15-minute frequency will be expanded on the routes. Both routes are through-routed.
  • Route 120 will benefit from another 20 trips on Saturdays and 19 trips on Sunday. This will improve the hours of 15-minute on weekends.

Route 635, which is the Des Moines Community Shuttle, will get more service on weekday middays and Saturdays to provide better connections to light rail at Angle Lake Station.

Increased span of service will be provided to Routes 40, 101, and 150. Route 40 will get five extra trips on weekdays, nine more on Saturday, and 30 another on Sunday. This will allow service to be extended later on the route and improve frequency throughout the day, including new 15-minute frequency on Sundays. Route 101 will benefit from an additional four late-night trips each weekend night to extend service. Route 150 will get one additional southbound trip on each weekend night to expand service hours.

Metro will also implement other service improvements to nearly two dozen routes, much of which will help reduce crowding at peak hours:

  • Route 3 will get two extra morning peak-hour trips on weekdays.
  • Routes 5 and 5X will get extra weekday trips. Five new peak-hour trips will go to Route 5 and one to Route 5X. The new trips will be equally split in the morning and evening.
  • Route 11 will get new peak-hour trips with four in the morning and two in the afternoon on weekdays.
  • Routes 17, 255, and 271 will get one new peak-hour trip in the afternoon on weekdays.
  • Routes 28, 252, and 311 each will get one new peak-hour trip in the morning on weekdays.
  • Route 36 will get one new peak-hour trip in the morning and two late-evening trips on weekdays.
  • Routes 43 and 373 will each get two new peak-hour trips in the afternoon on weekday.
  • Route 44 will get two new peak-hour trips in the morning on weekdays. An additional six trips will be added from 9am to 11am on Sundays to expand 12-minute frequency.
  • Route 48 will get six more late-evening trips on weekdays and four more early-morning trips on Sundays.
  • Routes 60 and 107 will see service times adjusted on weekends so that they provide combined 15-minute frequency from Beacon Hill Station to Georgetown.
  • Route 218 will get one peak-morning and peak-afternoon trip.
  • Route 372 will receive two additional trips on weekdays to improve frequency.
  • RapidRide C Line will get three new peak-morning trips and two peak-afternoon trips on weekdays. Sundays will benefit from an additional evening trip.
  • RapidRide D Line will receive an additional three trips on weekdays.
How Route 903’s alignment will be trimmed back. (King County)

Also notable, Route 903 will no longer provide service in Northeast Tacoma. Instead the last stop near the county line will be on SW 342nd St just west of 35th Ave SW in Federal Way. Sound Transit Route 522 will have a shortened span of service on weekdays. The trip departing at 11.59pm from Woodinville will no longer operate. However, a new weekday morning peak-hour trip will be added from University of Washington-Bothell. Sound Transit will additionally run an extra earlier morning trip (6.07am) on Route 542 from Green Lake and Route 577 from Lakewood in the early morning (4.45am).

The service change will go into effect on Saturday, September 21st.

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Stephen is an urban planner 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. Stephen lives in Kenmore and primarily covers land use and transportation issues for The Urbanist.

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If $30 car tabs passes this fall what happens to all this extra service? Does it all go away?


The short answer: not all, but a lot.

Long answer: In 2014, Seattle established a Transportation Benefit District (TBD), which uses a 0.1% sales tax increase and $60 car tab increase to fund additional bus service within the city of Seattle. Pretty much every bus route in the city is getting some amount of additional service funding from the TBD, and in many cases, a lot. The service improvements you are seeing here is just one small piece of what the Seattle TBD funds. Search for past service change and you will see similar rollouts of more bus service pretty much every few months from 2015 onward. If the TBD were eliminated, all of it would be at risk.

As an approximation of what would happen if the Seattle TBD were eliminated, one need look no further than what bus service was like in Seattle back in 2014, before the measure passed. At the time, almost no bus routes, except RapidRide, ran more often than every 30 minutes on Sundays, or evenings after 7-8 PM. After 10 PM, nightly, many popular bus route, including the 41, dropped to once an hour.

The TBD also funds a lot of rush hour service on the most crowded routes, which would quickly become overcrowded if the funding were eliminated. The TBD also funds *all* late-night bus service in Seattle, and if it went away, bus service on all routes between 1 AM and 5 AM would simply cease to exist.

If I-976 were to pass, service would probably not get rolled back all the way to the 2014 level, since the sales tax portion of the funding would remain, as would the efficiencies gained by light rail replacing most of the downtown->U-district buses in 2016. But, there would be cuts, and they would be severe. It’s too early to speculate what would happen on a route-by-route basis, but I would expect to a lot of bus routes get their service rolled back from every 15 minutes to every 30 minutes evenings/weekends, possibly even reduced to hourly service after 10 PM. Late-night service would be at risk of being cut completely. Rush hour service would also be at risk of losing some trips, causing overcrowding on the remaining trips.