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Metro, Sound Transit seek public comment on SR 520 service concepts

Summary

King County Metro and Sound Transit seek input from transit riders and Eastside communities on three possible options for restructuring transit service on state Route 520 to connect with downtown Seattle, the University District and growing areas such as South Lake Union. The public is asked to weigh in via an online survey at the Link Connections: SR 520 website.

Story

Metro and Sound Transit are considering options to maintain and improve bus service across SR 520 as several major transportation projects affect traffic to, and around, downtown Seattle over the next five years.

Two service concepts have been developed that would connect cross-lake buses at the University of Washington Link light rail station so riders can switch to frequent, reliable trains headed to downtown Seattle, and provide Eastside communities with new transit connections to destinations such as South Lake Union. Sound Transit and Metro routes that could be affected include the 252, 255, 257, 268, 277, 311, 540, 541, 542, and 545.

Starting today, transit riders and the public are invited to review the service concepts and share their opinions through an online survey and by attending open houses. The options are:

OPTION A: Route 255 would no longer use the downtown Seattle transit tunnel and would instead operate on downtown Seattle surface streets.

  • This could increase travel times by 15-20 minutes.
  • Routes 252, 257, 268, 277, 311 and 545 would see increased travel times of 5-10 minutes and reduced reliability.

OPTION B: This option provides connections with Link light rail and adds more frequent bus service.

  • Routes 252, 255, 257, 268, 311 and 545 would travel to the UW light rail station where passengers would transfer to Link to continue their trip to downtown Seattle.
  • Savings generated by moving buses from I-5 with this option would be re-invested into more frequent bus service with a wider service span during mornings, evenings and weekends.
  • This option establishes new, direct connections from the Eastside to South Lake Union and Seattle Children’s Hospital. It also provides a new, direct connection between South Kirkland, Overlake and downtown Redmond. 

OPTION C: This option provides connections with Link light rail and adds new, improved service 

  • Routes 255, 268 and 545 would connect with the UW light rail station and the University District. Other routes would continue providing service to downtown Seattle.
  • Savings generated by this option would be used to provide new, direct connections from the Eastside to South Lake Union and Seattle Children’s Hospital, plus a new Eastside to downtown Seattle route on nights and weekends.
  • This option would provide a new direct Eastside connection between South Kirkland and Overlake.

The agencies launched a public outreach process this month to hear from riders on potential changes and how transit service can be improved. Feedback will be used to shape a single service proposal that will be presented for public review this fall. A final proposal will be presented to the King County Council and Sound Transit Board for consideration. 

The public may share feedback by:

  • Taking an online survey through June 30.
  • Attending an open house.
  • Talking with Metro and Sound Transit “Street Teams.” Teams will be out along SR 520 on Wednesday, June 7 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and at other various locations during the first two weeks of June.

The public can find the survey and a calendar of events, including times and locations of open houses, as well as sign up to receive updates via the Link Connections SR-520 website. 

Connecting 520 routes to light rail could link riders with congestion-free service to downtown Seattle at the University of Washington. Metro first considered this option when the University of Washington light rail station opened in March 2016 as part of the University Link Connections outreach process, but decided to conduct an addition outreach process with Eastside communities.

Nearly 230,000 people commute in and out of downtown Seattle from throughout the region, with many thousands more coming to shop and attend cultural events. More than 55,000 more jobs and 25,000 additional households are expected to be added in downtown Seattle over the next 20 years. As that growth occurs, downtown traffic is expected to get worse, affected by significant changes, including the Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition; the Washington State Convention Center expansion; and the conversion of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel into a rail-only facility that will send additional buses onto surface streets. 

Changes outside downtown Seattle over the next five years include SR-520 construction and work along I-90 in preparation for the opening of East Link in 2023.

Additionally, an effort led by the Seattle Department of Transportation in partnership with King County Metro, Sound Transit and the Downtown Seattle Association called One Center City proposes potential strategies including bus route changes alongside street and traffic improvements and other measures in Downtown Seattle.

RELEVANT LINKS

Metro Link Connections: SR-520

Sound Transit SR-520 Link Connections

One Center City