Link Connections – New bus concepts online, meetings this month, tunnel route changes ahead

Link Connections

Link is coming to Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium in early 2016. Metro and Sound Transit are working with the public to plan how bus service will connect with new light rail.

Riders can go online now to see new concepts for changing bus service in the University District, Capitol Hill and SR 520  – all part of better coordinated transit service after Sound Transit extends Link light rail to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington in 2016. Joint planning by King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle is intended to improve bus service and keep traffic moving in downtown Seattle during the transition.

Public meetings are March 19, 25 and 26, where riders can speak with planners about how they use the transit network. Concepts available online show how bus service could be more concentrated on key corridors. There also is a survey to gather rider feedback.

  • March 19, 6-8 p.m. at Seattle University
  • March 25, 6-8 p.m. at Bellevue City Hall
  • March 26, 6-8 p.m. at University Heights Center

Revising and improving the transit network is one facet of County Executive and Sound Transit Chair Dow Constantine’s transit integration initiative. University Link will offer an 8-minute trip between UW and downtown Seattle, no matter what time of day. Metro and Sound Transit are considering how to integrate bus services to the light rail line and take advantage of this significant time savings over current road conditions.

Downtown Seattle tunnel changes

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Click image for PDF of map

This fall, Sound Transit begins testing light rail train operations between downtown Seattle and UW Station, increasing the number of trains operating in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Trains will run every six minutes during rush hours and every 10-15 minutes in the afternoon and evenings. As a result, six Metro peak service bus routes – routes 76, 77, 216, 218, 219 and 316 – are scheduled to be redirected to surface street bus stops starting Sept. 26, 2015. (See Map) The move to reroute 89 weekday bus trips to stops on Seattle streets makes room for additional trains in the tunnel while maintaining all-day service for routes that currently serve the tunnel, routes 41, 71, 72, 73, 74, 255, 101, 102, 106, 150, 550. The tunnel currently carries 1,187 bus trips each weekday in addition to Central Link light rail service. With nearly six years’ experience jointly operating buses and trains in the downtown transit tunnel, these periodic adjustments in the number of buses using the facility will continue to evolve as Link expands.

As that handful of tunnel bus routes shifts to surface streets, the City of Seattle, Metro and Sound Transit are coordinating surface street improvements to keep transit and general traffic moving along key city corridors. The improvements will help facilitate both the additional tunnel bus routes shifting to the surface, as well as the existing routes on the surface streets along the same corridors.

The Seattle Department of Transportation is lead on making these improvements, which provide transit priority and help and help better manage the downtown transportation network. Together, these coordinated improvements will help improve transit reliability during upcoming changes to transit service. These SDOT street improvements are essential to accommodating more surface bus transit as Sound Transit tunnel testing and Link expansion increases the people-carrying capacity of the tunnel.

“By expanding Link light rail to Husky Stadium and improving the coordination between transit agencies, we will improve mobility in and around downtown Seattle. These are tangible examples of how investments in light rail and integration of rail and bus services will expand transportation options in our region.”

-Dow Constantine, King County Executive and Chair of the Sound Transit Board of Directors

“We’re making strategic investments that will move more bus riders and general traffic through downtown as our light rail network grows. This plan will help improve travel times, even as more people use our expanding bus and rail systems.” -Seattle Mayor Ed Murray