Metro and Seattle DOT team up to ease Route 8 traffic choke points

Route 8 riders can look forward to more-reliable service starting in 2017.

That’s when Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation are scheduled to begin work on a number of traffic and parking revisions from Lower Queen Anne to Capitol Hill that will help keep Route 8 on schedule.

Plans include more green time for traffic signals at Denny Way and Fifth and Sixth avenues, and left-turn restrictions at several intersections to avoid traffic tie-ups that slow everyone down.

The most significant change will convert the center westbound lane of Denny Way between Stewart Street and Fairview Avenue into an eastbound bus-only lane. This measure alone will cut Route 8 travel time by about 60 seconds, with minimal impact on traffic according to our traffic studies.route8_map_blog

On Capitol Hill, on-street parking will be restricted on short sections of Denny Way, Olive Way, East John Street, and East Thomas Street. Also in the works are two expanded bus stops on Olive Way and East John Street so buses don’t have to leave and re-enter heavy traffic, and to provide more space and amenities for waiting passengers.

Many of these improvements will help traffic flow a little more smoothly for everyone, a win-win for both transit riders and motorists.

Metro received grants from the Federal Transit Administration to fund the improvements. The funds will cover SDOT’s costs to design and make the improvements, and also Metro’s costs to add new shelters, benches, and better lighting at bus stops from Denny Way and Second Avenue to 15th Avenue East on Capitol Hill.

To reduce construction impacts, Metro and Seattle are working to coordinate improvements with nearby projects such as the Denny Way Substation Project at Fairview Avenue.

Route 8 serves an estimated 10,000 riders a day, connecting people in Lower Queen Anne, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, Madison Valley, Judkins Park, and Mount Baker to the Capitol Hill and in Mount Baker Link light rail stations as well as major employment hubs like South Lake Union.

Though reliability increased when Route 8 was divided into two separate routes in March 2016, late buses are still a problem, especially during rush hour and major events at the Seattle Center.

The project improvements will be made in phases during 2017 and 2018.

Metro proposal extends Route 38 to the International District

Route 9X would be reduced to peak hours only

King County Metro today proposed an extension of  Route 38 to the International District from Mount Baker Transit Center. The route would operate in both directions between the Mount Baker Transit Center and Fifth Avenue South and South Jackson Street in the International District on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. This extension would be funded by reducing Route 9X to operate during peak hours only.

The County Council will consider this and other changes to be made in September 2016.

SE-Seattle-1From last Nov. 23 through Jan. 10 of this year, Metro asked for public input on a proposal that would have changed routes 9X, 38, 106, 107, and 124. The proposal was shaped by Metro’s four years of work with community-based organizations whose mission is to provide access to opportunity. More recently we also heard from a community advisory group that met in 2015. More than 1,000 people shared their opinions about the changes—thank you!

We heard from people who took our online survey or called or wrote to us that they thought the proposed tradeoffs in service would be difficult for them. People told us they want more convenient transit access between downtown Seattle, MLK Way, and Renton, but don’t wish to see the route(s) they currently use reduced or changed.

On the other hand, outreach conducted by our trusted advocates found that a majority of people taking the bus to reach services along MLK Way said proposed revisions to routes 106 and 107 would make their travel easier. They would have less travel time, fewer transfers, and shorter distances to walk to reach these services, and they’d have new, valuable connections to communities and services between Renton and MLK Way.

>>Find background on this process on our project website.

Based on all that we heard, Metro recommends reducing Route 9X and extending Route 38 to the International District on weekdays only. The extension of Route 38 will provide more convenient access for riders coming from around the county to access opportunities along MLK Way at times when they need it most – answering consistent, persistent feedback from communities of color, low-income and non-English speaking communities in the MLK corridor about the loss of historic community connections between the International District.

This recommendation limits impacts of these changes to Route 9X riders only. Midday riders of Route 9X will continue to have frequent service options to get between the Rainier Valley and First Hill using Route 7 and the First Hill Streetcar, or with a bus connection to Link light rail, which now serves Capitol Hill – consistent with how we consider equity and ridership in establishing service levels.

In addition, the limited stop pattern of recommended Route 38 between Mount Baker Transit Center and the International District is designed to replace Route 9 express service between Mount Baker and Little Saigon (12th Ave S/S Jackson St).

The Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment (TrEE) Committee is expected to introduce Ordinance #2016-0199, an ordinance approving September 2016 public transportation service changes for King County, at their meeting on Tuesday, April 5, 9:30 a.m.

Find details of Ordinance 2016-0199 by downloading the following:

>>Learn more and participate by visiting the TrEE Committee’s website.

 

Rally at Westlake Park celebrates 25 years of Americans with Disabilities Act

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Braille and raised text identify Metro coaches for riders.

On Wednesday, July 22, our community is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act with a rally 4-6 p.m. at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle underscoring the positive changes created by the ADA. Transit service will take people to and from the event and we extend the invitation to riders to mark the occasion and join in the celebration.MetroHistoryDisability_19 MetroHistoryDisability_20 MetroHistoryDisability_5

People living with disabilities or who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices ride Metro each and every day, enjoying the freedom the transit system supports. Decades ago, before ADA, Metro pioneered the use of specialized lifts to support riders who use wheelchairs, opening up a world of transit access previously unavailable.

Systems to make riding better for those with disabilities continue to evolve. We make stop announcements for the sight impaired, and ensure that our website and online timetables work with screen readers. Recently, Metro’s Transit Advisory Commission – which represents concerns of all riders, including those living with disabilities – asked Metro to install tactile coach numbers on the inside of our buses. We’re installing these on our fleet – both braille and raised numbers – and by taking this step, we further assist riders who are blind and support their independence.

These measures demonstrate Metro’s continuing commitment to making transit accessible for everyone. The 25th anniversary is an opportunity for us to mark the success we’ve achieved and recommit ourselves to continuing improvements that better serve riders with disabilities.