Let’s use Metro Bus Route 4 to and from East Queen Anne (and John Hay School)

Many folks may not appreciate the Route 4 which starts (and ends) at John Hay School.

Metro is proposing to eliminate the East Queen Anne neighborhood’s seven-tenths of a mile tail of this route, which serves folks who commute to downtown and First Hill, including Seattle U, Harborview and Garfield High School, and which provides essential services for people without automobiles to John Hay School throughout the school day. It serves the neighborhood and also serves the Bartell/Safeway/Trader Joe’s/Queen Anne Pool/McClure Middle School/Farmer’s Market stop, plus several hundred apartments and condos on Queen Anne Avenue. During the summer it serves tourists and visitors who come to the Hill and rely on the bus system for a myriad of purposes.     

For my grandchildren, it is the bus that goes to and from a great variety of places. If we want to go to the Seattle Center, it is the bus that takes us to the Space Needle, the Gates Foundation, the Experience Music Project, Amazonia, the Monorail. If we want to go farther into downtown, it takes us to shop at many stores, to visit a parent in an office, to transfer to the light rail and to many other bus routes, to Pike Place Market, Benaroya Hall and the Seattle Art Museum, theatres, the ferry, King Street Station, and CenturyLink and Safeco Fields.

What many neighbors and potential users may not appreciate is that the Route 4 is the faster bus route between East Queen Anne and downtown.  It runs every half hour throughout the day and more frequently during the rush hours. If you currently walk to some other bus to get to downtown, that route will be a slower choice even though the 4 seems to navigate a less direct route. Just check out the bus schedule and add the time to walk to that alternative. City voters, including many on Queen Anne, voted to tax themselves to keep services like this from the cutting block about a year ago.

In the other direction — from Downtown — just hopping on the Route 4 along Third Avenue used to save the five minutes-plus to get you to the very top at John Hay School/Queen Anne High School and other apartments and the new Alternative High School (saving you a climb of 68 steps) and helping faculty members, students and parents who rely on Metro to get their kids to school. As for older folks, those with injuries and weary or laden commuters and other travelers, it used to be a real boon. But something changed. At the beginning of the year, after about 100 years of operation (and just after the election) Metro decided to make it less useful, even in the rush hour and during school hours, by interrupting it (and the riders) for up to 15 minutes before proceeding to the end of the line where many people went, this, ostensibly, so that the drivers could take breaks, (some of whom were mystified by the 15 minute interruption). 

So, give it a try. And if you have a youngster along save yourself the five-minute walk toward downtown. But remember, for the present, it is now several minutes slower in the other direction to the top than it used to be. Let’s hope that Metro will find a more suitable alternative for the breaks (and the riders) and save a lot of aggravation outbound and keep this small, dense tail which generates quite a bit of traffic. Let us also remember that the School District will be changing the hours for school opening, and reliance on the bus service will be more time-critical in the mornings next year. 

With regard to SPU, there are currently 17 buses in each direction during the morning and evening peak periods (Routes 13 and #29) traveling the 3rd Avenue West hill.  Sending the 3 and the 4 down there would add another 12 or more buses in each direction, which seems excessive, not to mention congested. A smaller feasibility trial would seem to make sense for a test of the Taylor Avenue route as a connection to SPU and connecting routes to Fremont, 45th Street and the University District and might lead to some other more sensible alternatives which would not destroy services in QA neighborhoods accustomed to transit.   


Bill Fort

Queen Anne