King County Metro is moving forward with changes to a pair of routes that currently connect Queen Anne to Downtown Seattle.
Metro Routes 3 and 4, which currently end in residential areas, will be extended to West Nickerson Street to serve Seattle Pacific University when Metro’s spring service change goes into effect on March 11. Between the intersection of Queen Anne Avenue North and Boston Street, and the SPU campus, the routes will follow the same path as Route 13. While the residential turnaround loops of both routes will be eliminated, the remainder of their current line will stay the same.
With all three slated to serve riders between SPU and the Queen Anne business district, the buses will be scheduled to provide service at consistent, regular intervals. Routes 3 and 4 will come every 15 minutes for most of the day, while the arrival of Route 13 may not be as evenly spaced because of connections to other services.
Metro service planning supervisor Katie Chalmers said the agency is looking for opportunities to provide strong, frequent service to major markets. One way to do that, she said, is to have major destinations sit at both ends of a line.
“When we’re designing service from a service planning perspective, what really can be really helpful to attract riders is to have strong anchors on either end of a route … something that’s really a place where a lot of people are going, a place where there’s people coming and going throughout the day,” she said.
While Metro heard concerns from those who live close to the bus stops that will be removed, especially from those with mobility challenges that may have difficulty getting to other stops, Chalmers said many were excited by the new connections.
“We expect that not only will more people find these routes to be useful because they’re serving an area with a lot more demand, it also has potential to expand the reach of the network as well,” she said. “Instead of ending in a neighborhood you’re ending at a major destination, and you’re also ending in a place where people can make connections to other routes.”
With the new end point, riders will now be able to connect to the Route 31, which runs between the University of Washington and Magnolia, or the Route 32, which serves riders between the UW and Seattle Center.
Meanwhile, Metro is also trying to respond to very specific concerns from residents, among them the frustration that a new bus shelter installed at Rodgers Park would be abandoned with the change. While that stop will no longer be used after the service change, Metro will install a shelter at the eastbound stop on West McGraw Street at Second Avenue West to give those currently boarding the Route 3 north of West McGraw Street a covered waiting area.
“We really rely on the public to be those experts on specific neighborhood issues, and to highlight those for us when we’re looking to make changes,” she said.
Meanwhile, for those that may find the extra distance between their home and a bus stop to be prohibitive, Metro’s ADA paratransit service Access Transportation may be an option for some riders, while Sound Generations’ Hyde Shuttles are available those 55 and older, or with disabilities.
Along with expanding the service options for local residents, the change is also designed to provide some relief to Metro drivers. Chalmers said that at the completion of their route, drivers need a place to take a break, as part of having a functional and safe work environment. With a terminus in a residential area, she said, it’s much harder to provide that.
“When you’re ending a route in a neighborhood,” she said, “there’s usually not a restroom available to the operators.”
With the looming change, Metro has partnered with Seattle Pacific to provide 24/7 restroom access to drivers.
Ultimately, Chalmers said, Metro worked closely with the university and the community, along with the city of Seattle in advance of the change, with the aim of expanding transit’s reach for local residents.
“We know that people rely on transit to travel, to meet the needs of their everyday lives,” she said, “and ultimately we’re hoping to make with changes like this, is to make transit a better option for more people to use to get around the city.”
For more information on the upcoming changes, visit the Metro Matters blog at metrofutureblog.wordpress.com. Those with further questions about the change or service planning can email Chalmers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (206) 477-5869.