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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Link Connections: Community engagement begins for integrated bus and light rail service in north King County

Summary

As Sound Transit extends its light rail system to serve three new Link stations in Seattle in 2021, King County Metro is launching efforts to connect with riders to understand what changes are needed to improve service and connections. It’s an opportunity to revise and integrate 30 bus routes to create a customer-focused transit network that works for more people, with a focus on improving access to opportunities for historically underserved residents.

Story

King County Metro today launched a community engagement effort to understand what changes are needed to improve service and connection as Sound Transit prepares to open three new Link stations in Seattle in 2021.

The Northgate Link Extension provides an opportunity to revise and integrate 30 Metro bus routes to create a seamless transit network with a focus on improving access for people who have historically been underserved.

“Our work to integrate light rail and bus service is paying dividends, making our region a national leader in ridership growth,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who also is a member of the Sound Transit Board of Directors. “As we prepare to open three new light rail stations for the Northgate Link Extension, we are reaching out to customers to learn how we can make transit service more equitable and improve the customer experience for those who rely on transit the most.”

For decades, bus service on established transit corridors has connected customers to Northgate, the Roosevelt area, and the University District, and in 2021 that will shift and evolve with the addition of three new light rail stations. King County Metro has upgraded and revised the transit network with new phases of Sound Transit expansion to connect people to Link and better connect them within their communities.

“We are focused on reaching out and understanding the needs of people who have been historically underserved by transit service,” said King County Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. “When these stations open and the bus service is improved, we want riders to be better connected to what’s important to them – the community and family wage jobs, education and healthcare – with frequent and equitable service.”

The next phase for Link light rail expansion

Sound Transit is expanding light rail from the University of Washington at Husky Stadium to Northgate Transit Center, opening two underground stations in the University District and Roosevelt and an elevated station at Northgate in 2021.

Because light rail avoids traffic congestion, riders reach their destinations faster and more reliably. This opens up the new opportunities to make transit work better for existing customers and for people who it may not work for today.

“When we open light rail to Northgate in less than two years from today, thousands of additional commuters will be able to escape some of the region’s worst road congestion,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “A great many of those riders will be depending on fast and seamless connections from buses to light rail and the time to start planning for those connections is right now. Our trains will provide fast and reliable rides up to every three minutes, and each train will move up to 800 riders. Our joint planning with King County Metro will be key to our ability to provide a quality and convenient experience to every one of those riders."

This will be Metro’s largest service restructure since Sound Transit extended light rail to the University of Washington in 2016. Combined transit ridership in the ULink service area of Northeast Seattle and Capitol Hill climbed 14 percent comparing 2015 and 2018 as customers chose to ride light rail.

Changes will be considered to more than 30 routes serving communities within Seattle, Shoreline, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Bothell, and Woodinville in order to bring more people to and from light rail stations and respond to changing transportation needs.

Metro serves an estimated 30 million weekday rides annually in the service area under evaluation, and provides 740,000 annual service hours – about 18 percent of Metro’s service. Key among the services in the area is Route 41 between downtown Seattle and Northgate, the transit system’s ninth busiest route providing an estimated 8,800 rides daily.

Major opportunity for improving mobility and connections

As part of the first planning stage of the mobility project, Metro will be engaging with the neighborhoods most impacted by the upcoming service changes and focusing specifically on communities who are disproportionately affected by transit inequities, including people of color, low-income residents, limited or non-English speaking communities, riders with disabilities, and immigrants and refugees. Metro is recruiting members of these communities to serve on a Mobility Board.

Metro will work directly with these communities to develop a transit network that minimizes duplication of Metro service with Link light rail, improves connections to light rail, redesigns existing fixed-route service, and offers new mobility services to respond to current and future mobility needs.

The project will be done in coordination with Sound Transit, the Seattle Department of Transportation, the University of Washington and many other partners.

Sound Transit is working closely with other transit agencies throughout the Northgate Link Extension bus restructure process. Sound Transit will also be talking to riders later this fall about adjusting ST Express service to create a more reliable regional transit network between 2021 and 2024.

Check out Metro’s North Link Connections Mobility Project webpage and Sound Transit’s Northgate Link Extension webpage for the latest project information. For Metro service alerts, sign up here, and for Sound Transit service alerts, sign up here.

  • Areas impacted: North Seattle and the University District, Shoreline, Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, and Woodinville
  • Potentially affected routes: 26, 31, 32, 41, 45, 62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 71, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 301, 303, 304, 308, 309, 312, 316, 330, 345, 346, 347, 348, 355, 372, 373, Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Community Ride

Relevant links


Quotes

Our work to integrate light rail and bus service is paying dividends, making our region a national leader in ridership growth. As we prepare to open three new light rail stations for the Northgate Link Extension, we are reaching out to customers to learn how we can make transit service more equitable and improve the customer experience for those who rely on transit the most.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

We are focused on reaching out and understanding the needs of people who have been historically underserved by transit service. When these stations open and the bus service is improved, we want riders to be better connected to what’s important to them – the community and family wage jobs, education and healthcare – with frequent and equitable service.

Rob Gannon, King County Metro General Manager

When we open light rail to Northgate in less than two years from today, thousands of additional commuters will be able to escape some of the region’s worst road congestion. A great many of those riders will be depending on fast and seamless connections from buses to light rail and the time to start planning for those connections is right now. Our trains will provide fast and reliable rides up to every three minutes, and each train will move up to 800 riders. Our joint planning with King County Metro will be key to our ability to provide a quality and convenient experience to every one of those riders.

Peter Rogoff, Sound Transit CEO

For more information, contact:

Jeff Switzer, King County Metro, 206-477-3833
Rachelle Cunningham, Sound Transit, 206-398-5069


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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