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Link Connections: Metro seeks feedback on future bus and Link light rail integration in north King County

Summary

King County Metro is seeking a final round of public feedback on concepts for updating bus service to integrate with three new Sound Transit Link Light rail stations in 2021. These concepts were developed with the help of a community-based Mobility Board and were informed by broader public feedback on service needs and priorities.

Story

Building on previous rounds of community input, Metro and Sound Transit are working to finalize an integrated, customer-centered transit network of 40 bus routes that will connect with fast, reliable Link light rail at three new stations. The new Seattle stations – U District, Roosevelt and Northgate – will extend the reach of the rail network. The resulting transit network will improve access to opportunities for all, with an extra focus on historically underserved residents.

King County Metro today launched a survey and community engagement effort seeking public feedback on refined concepts. Areas where changes are proposed include Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, North Seattle, Shoreline, and the University District.

Potentially affected routes include 5X*, 26, 31, 32, 40, 41, 44, 45, 48, 49, 62, 63*, 64, 65, 67, 70, 71*, 73, 74, 75, 76*, 77*, 78*, 301, 303, 304, 308*, 309, 312*, 316*, 330, 331, 345, 346, 347, 348, 355*, 372, 373 and Sound Transit Express 522 (*Routes are not operating as of fall 2020, including routes 5X, 63, 71, 76, 77, 78, 308, 312, and 316, due to the pandemic).

Give feedback to service concepts on 40 bus route
Customers who want to review and give feedback on the service concepts can visit Metro’s online survey and share feedback in English, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. Metro also plans to participate in online events and meetings scheduled by community groups that are open to the public. Please visit Metro’s project calendar to find an event near you. The survey will be open through Nov. 1, 2020.

This project is in coordination with Sound Transit, the Seattle Department of Transportation, Community Transit, and many other partners. 

The concepts build on two previous rounds of community and public engagement completed in September 2019 and March 2020. Metro enlisted help from a Mobility Board of community members who equitably represent people who have been historically left out of decision-making conversations. Based on Mobility Board members and Metro’s careful consideration of broader public feedback and input, the proposed bus network will:

  • Improve east-west crosstown connections (Examples: Connecting U District Station with Seattle Children’s Hospital via revised Routes 31 and 32; creating the new Route 79; and revising Route 74.)
  • Create transfer points that are convenient and easy for customers (Example: Improving connections at U District Station via Northeast 43rd Street.)
  • Make transit travel times for many trips faster and more consistent by connecting with light rail (Examples: Connecting Routes 301 and 304 to Northgate Station.)
  • Increase access to hospitals and medical facilities (Northgate, UW, First Hill, Seattle Children’s). (Examples: Replacing Route 309 with the new Route 322 to First Hill; Replacing Route 312 with Route 361 to South Lake Union; and connecting Seattle Children’s Hospital to Link light rail in the U District via Routes 31 and 32.)
  • Expand opportunity through connections to growing job centers like South Lake Union (Example: Replacing Route 312 with Route 361 to South Lake Union.)

Background: The next phase for Link light rail expansion

For decades, bus service has connected customers to Northgate, Roosevelt, and the University District. With the addition of three new light rail stations in 2021, Metro is upgrading and revising the transit network to better connect people to Link and to their communities and desired destinations.

Because light rail avoids traffic congestion, riders will reach their destinations faster and more reliably. This opens up many new opportunities to make transit work better for existing and new customers.

This phase of Link light rail expansion will be Metro’s largest service restructure since Sound Transit extended light rail to the University of Washington in 2016. Pre-pandemic, Metro served an estimated 30 million weekday rides per year in the service area under evaluation, accounting for 740,000 annual service hours – about 18 percent of Metro’s service. Route 41 between downtown Seattle and Northgate has ranked as Metro’s ninth busiest route and provided about 8,800 rides daily.

As King County responds to the financial effects of the pandemic, Metro is forecast to have lower revenue collections and continues to see lower ridership compared to last year. The bus service concepts under consideration are intended to be funded using available resources, and do not include the Seattle Transportation Benefit District funding that is scheduled to expire at the end of 2020. In the event that more resources become available in the future from the proposed Seattle Transportation Benefit District replacement or other sources, Metro would then work with the City of Seattle to identify where service would be added.

Major opportunity for improving mobility and connections
As part of the first planning stage of the mobility project, Metro engaged with the neighborhoods most likely to benefit from the new Link station connections and focused specifically on communities that are disproportionately affected by inequities, including people of color, low-income residents, linguistically diverse communities, riders with disabilities, immigrants, and refugees.

Mobility Board members represent diverse communities and backgrounds including Latinx, Muslim, South Asian, LGBTQ, disAbled, Korean, Asian Pacific Islander, Iraqi, and African American communities. The members represent working professionals, students, and people who have low incomes. Some have experience with homelessness and access issues. There is a mix of avid transit riders and those who are new to public transportation.

Sound Transit and Community Transit have also been discussing how bus service to and from Snohomish County can connect with light rail at the new light rail stations. Both agencies are talking to riders about adjusting ST Express and Community Transit service to create a more reliable regional transit network once light rail opens to Northgate in 2021. Visit Sound Transit’s 2021 Service Plan project page, which is open for public comment until Sept. 25, 2021. You can find Community Transit’s proposed changes to their network here. Sound Transit and Community Transit will be bringing forward their final proposal to their respective Boards by the end of 2020 for adoption.

RELEVANT LINKS

King County Metro’s North Link Connections Mobility Project page with surveys in these languages


Sound Transit Northgate Link Extension project page
Sound Transit 2021 Service Plan project page
Community Transit Link Connections: Northgate project page