King County Metro and Sound Transit are further rerouting buses for the duration the Montlake Bridge closure, which is undergoing repair work. The agency announced modifications to Route 48, 271, and 542 this week that means that the routes are neither serving the University of Washington Medical Center nor the University of Washington light rail station. This has led the agency to issue special guidance for riders of these routes (see end of article).

In short, Routes 48, 271, 542 are terminating inbound to the University District at the University Way NE stop on NE Campus Pkwy while outbound from the University District Route 48 starts at the northern NE Campus Pkwy stop on 15th Ave NE and Routes 271 and 542 start at the southern NE Campus Pkwy stop on 15th Ave NE.

Map of the service pattern to reach University of Wash

Last weekend, the Seattle Department of Transportation answered the call and installed temporary bus lanes on NE Campus Pkwy in the westbound direction. The bus lanes cover a distance of about five blocks, which is enough to bring buses closer to the University Bridge and Roosevelt Way NE to skip past idle cars. However, modest paint with “BUS ONLY” and signs mark the lanes. That doesn’t appear to have garnered high compliance by motorists, at least on Wednesday afternoon.

The bus lane treatment for NE Campus Pkwy, which is light paint and signage. (Credit: The Urbanist)

Prior to the bus lane installation, buses were averaging 10- to 15-minute delays on reroutes. Buses on reroutes are traveling long distances to reach their normal pathways via the University Bridge, Boyer Ave E, and other streets, but gridlocked traffic and additional stoplight certainly don’t help with delays.

The Washington State Department of Transportation expects to reopen the Montlake Bridge at 5am on Friday, September 3rd. Yet, Metro’s reroute notice for Routes 48, 271, and 542 extend through Sunday, September 5th.


Special guidance for riders of Routes 48, 271, and 542:

Route 48 riders heading north toward the University of Washington, exit at stop 9575 located on eastbound NE Campus Parkway just west of University Way NE. Transfer to Metro routes 43, 44, 45, 65, 73, 255, or 373 at stop 10917, located about one block away on southbound 15th Ave NE just south of NE 40th St.

Heading south toward Mount Baker Transit Center from the Montlake area, Route 48 riders may board Metro Routes 44, 45, 73, 255 or 373 at stop 29405, located on westbound NE Pacific St just west of Montlake Blvd NE – Bay 2. Exit at stop 29440 located on northbound 15th Ave NE just south of NE Campus Parkway and transfer to Route 48 at stop 10914 located one block north on southbound 15th Ave NE just north of NE Campus Parkway.

Route 271 or ST 542 riders heading west toward the University of Washington, exit at stop 9575 located on eastbound NE Campus Parkway just west of University Way NE. Transfer to Metro Routes 43, 44, 45, 65, 73, 25,5 or 373 at stop 10917, located about one block away on southbound 15th Ave NE just south of NE 40th St.

Heading toward their Eastside destinations from the Montlake area, Route 271 and ST 542 riders may board Metro routes 44, 45, 73, 255, or 373 at stop 29405, located on westbound NE Pacific St just west of Montlake Blvd NE – Bay 2. Exit at stop 29440 located on northbound 15th Ave NE just south of NE Campus Parkway and transfer to Route 271 and ST 542 at this same stop.

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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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Carl

Can we agree that it is simply ludicrous for the Metro 255 and ST 542 to be operating to the U-District during the Montlake Bridge closure? The 542 could just be canceled or use the service hours for more frequency on the 545. Riders for the U-District can transfer at Westlake. Since the 255 is the only service from Kirkland and S. Kirkland and downtown is the primary destination, it’s punitive to Kirkland riders to have to suffer this reroute if they are headed downtown. The UW isn’t in session. Given all the construction around Montlake and SR-520, the truncation of the 255 was terribly misguided before all the construction was done, and maybe even afterward. The Orwellian duplicitous justification for the truncation included making the service more reliable – and it has been anything but reliable. I would estimate like 100 days of reroutes so far and daily reports of multiple cancelled runs, perhaps because it’s just wasting service hours. If it weren’t for the Covid ridership disruption, the ridership data will show what a mistake the 255 truncation has been. Meantime Sound Transit is doubling Tacoma bus service direct to downtown Seattle to every 15 minutes. Tacoma riders get a direct bus downtown. And Kirklanders have a forever detour to get anywhere. Is that an equity goal?