News of Madison Valley

No-go on Metro Transit Bus Route Changes

JANUARY 6, 2016 | REG NEWBECK

Metro Transit announced on Dec. 16, 2015, that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) had stopped its plans to have Routes 8 and 11 go north on 19th Avenue East and East Madison Street. The statement in December 2015’s Madison Park Community Council’s “Neighborhood Connection” newsletter about Route 11 is incorrect: Routes 8 and 11 will stay as is in March 2016, with the restructuring to support the implementation of light rail on Broadway and at Husky Stadium.

The Metro changes will be administrative actions and do not require Metropolitan King County Council approval. The No. 8 will split into Routes 8 and 38 at the Mount Baker Transit Center, and it will continue to go west on East John/Thomas streets starting at 24th Avenue East and East Madison.

Those who wanted to connect with light rail at Broadway and John Street on the No. 11 will have the options of transferring to the No. 8 at Martin Luther King Jr. Way East, walking two blocks on Broadway to the light rail station at John Street or taking the No. 49 or the streetcar (when it starts running) on Broadway.

Keeping the No. 8/11 as is may work out for the best since it will give Metro time to evaluate the results of the Proposition 1 funding (0.1-percent sales tax) improvements and the impact of the two new light rail stations. These changes add service hours that will be applied to other routes since the 19th Avenue East turn required additional service hours.

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Other routes changes

Based on information supplied by several Metro drivers and riders, Route 11 is experiencing overflow problems, resulting in people left at the curb during peak hours. On Dec. 18, 2015, Metro stated that Route 11 on the Madison and Pine Street corridor will use 60-foot-long articulated coaches when ridership is at its highest.

Riders of the No. 43 will only have service during peak hours at 30-minute intervals, and this is unfortunate.

Metro is making an additional administrative change that will have Route 10 turn west at 15th Avenue East and East John Street, going by the light rail stateion on Broadway and then west to Pike/Pine downtown via Olive Way and Bellevue Avenue. This change will help some of the current users of the No. 43, but it leaves a gap on 15th Avenue East between East Pine and John streets, a level three-block walk.

Metro’s plans to increase the frequency of the No. 8 to fill some of the gaps when Route 43 goes to peak-hour-only service.

The route change for the No. 10 will provide added service for those in the Summit neighborhood. The sad part of this restructure process is that either Metro did not test the 19th Avenue East solution before going to the County Council or it did not coordinate with SDOT. Hopefully, this never happens again, given the amount of energy put in by a lot of people who were to be impacted by Metro’s change.

One would need to question if Metro tested having the No. 11 turn north at 15th Avenue East and East Pine. I was given responses like the bus can’t turn corners and that it would be a longer run.

So what was the 19th Avenue East solution? Metro also told me that its 60-foot buses could navigate the corner at 19th, but not the 40-foot buses, due to the length of the wheelbase.

BRT options

The one-seat ride that we enjoy going downtown to the Pike/Pine corridor may not be part of our future with the Madison Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that we approved as part of the Move Seattle initiative.

The BRT will have positive impacts for those along the Madison corridor, and that includes new and improved infrastructure, faster service, better signaling and easier access to the medical facilities on Pill Hill, as well as Town Hall, the Central Library and Colman Dock. The businesses on East Madison will benefit from the tourist traffic to our area.

Plans released by SDOT on Dec. 18, 2015, have the BRT only going to Martin Luther King Jr. Way East, which puts the future of a No. 11 Madison routing in question. One possible option is to have some of the BRT buses continue to Madison Park, but this then provides no direct access to the Pike/Pine corridor. Another option would be to have the No. 11 continue to go to Madison Park but turn up East John Street at 24th Avenue East and East Madison Street; this routing gives direct access to light rail and then downtown.

The third option would be for the BRT to go to Madison Park, but this faces two big obstacles, one being the added cost and the second is those in Madison Park not wanting wired transit that would be cleaner, quieter and better for the environment.

We should be aware that BRT means wires on East Madison through to MLK!

Hopefully, improved battery technology may eliminate the need for trolley wires on East Madison in the near future.

In any case, we who use buses on East Madison may face change in the future and should stay involved with the process with Metro and SDOT.

If you have comments or questions about the Metro plans or existing service, please call Jon Bes, Metro supervisor of service planning, at (206) 477-5391.

REG NEWBECK is a Madison Park resident.

 

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