Another bus change proposed: Sound Transit 560 to/from Westwood only

October 21, 2012 at 11:23 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 31 Comments

(Route 560 bus photo by Flickr member Atomic Taco)
You might not think twice if you pass a particular Sound Transit Express bus parked on the southwest side of Westwood Village this Thursday (October 25), 5-7 pm … it’s not there for a break, it’s there for an open-house meeting. ST is taking comments on its draft Service Implementation Plan for next year, including a proposed major change to where you would catch Route 560 to go to Sea-Tac Airport, a route that went through schedule cuts last year (at which time there was also a warning of 2013 changes). Here’s how the change is described in the plan’s “executive summary”:

West Seattle-Airport Connection: Route 560 (Bellevue-Westwood Village)

The objectives of this proposed restructure include avoiding duplication with King County Metro service, improving ST Express productivity and providing a convenient full-time connection between the West Seattle/Highline areas and Sea-Tac Airport. King County Metro is developing a major transit hub at Westwood Village Shopping Center, located on Southwest Barton Street near the south city limits. ST Route 560 will duplicate service on the new RapidRide C Line between West Seattle Junction and the Westwood area when the new Metro route starts in September 2012. Sound Transit and King County Metro staff have developed a proposal for a Route 560 Westwood-Airport connection that eliminates this duplication and provides a much longer span of service to the airport.

560 currently ends in The Junction, as shown on this map. You can offer comments as well as ask questions at the Thursday open house (the bus will be at 29th/Barton, ST says), and/or via e-mail at fastride@soundtransit.org. The formal public hearing on all the proposals in the draft plan is scheduled for 12:30 pm November 1st at Sound Transit’s downtown board room (details here).

P.S. The proposal also is summarized in a Sound Transit newsletter – see it here.

31 Comments

  1. Just emailed the following to the addressed provided: “The Alaska junction is a transit hub and increasingly dense urban village. It makes no sense to reduce the convenience of taking transit to the airport from there, which would be the effect of the proposed change.”

    Comment by Ben — 11:46 am October 21, 2012 #

  2. I totally agree Ben. I am baffeled how RapidRide thinks that one stop in the Junction then going South for a mile before stopping at the next stop on Findlay makes sense. It is a major hub and needs to make stops on both ends of the Junction to maximize its capacity. They didn’t need to eliminate the stop at 7-11 at all. They are missing the whole California avenue corridor. How dumb..The 560 was empty until it hit White Center most of the time.

    Comment by junctionhobo — 11:57 am October 21, 2012 #

  3. Ridiculous, I am sick a tired of Metro. I understand they are bankrupt, but enough is enough. They need major organizational changes, they are created to serve the people of Seattle. Look at the buses- ZERO advertisments! How do they plan making money!

    Comment by Paul — 12:16 pm October 21, 2012 #

  4. Just a reminder – this is a SOUND TRANSIT proposal, not Metro. Separate agencies.

    Comment by WSB — 12:18 pm October 21, 2012 #

  5. if it costs too much they’ll cut it. Sound Transit is looking to cut the train from Everett to Seattle since it ends up being $29 per rider per trip and people don’t pay that much to ride each way. http://seattletimes.com/html/edcetera/2019448166_sounder_north_the_the_little_t.html

    Comment by Mike — 12:19 pm October 21, 2012 #

  6. It should start at North Admiral or Avalon and then continue up Alaska St onto California then onto Fauntleroy, then to Westwood. I know that would help me out here in Highland Park. I flew in yesterday @ 3pm. $36.00 with tip for a cab ride home. $2.75 would be so much nicer.

    Comment by DRW — 12:25 pm October 21, 2012 #

  7. Do you ever get the feeling that Rapid Ride/Sound Transit/Metro is just coming up with more and more ridiculous ideas until we cave and build what they originally wanted when they first drew all the light rail lines that were rejected?

    I live in the Westwood Village area and while I will actually benefit from their new plan of turning that space into a major hub, I laugh at the efficiency of it. I also have a little giggle about the fact that there are always 4+ busses just sitting around clogging up space. I have to wonder if their end plan is to someday run the light rail to Westwood Village instead of the Alaska Junction.

    Comment by Brian — 12:25 pm October 21, 2012 #

  8. I don’t know any transit riders that are pleased with either agency at the moment. No one seems to be saying the recent and future changes have or will benefit them.

    Comment by T — 12:30 pm October 21, 2012 #

  9. As WSB’s links show, the 560 was reduced in 2011 to serve northern West Seattle only at peak hours. Mid-day, you have to catch the 560 at Burien Transit Center anyway. In my experience to the airport and Bellevue, this bus is very low ridership from my Morgan Junction stop. I don’t see a problem taking a very frequent, cross-commute RR-C and connecting to the 560 at Westwood. Admiral/Alaska Junction can also use 128 via Light Rail (connect at Tukwila). Both are reasonable and convenient paths and way cheaper than taxi or shuttle for individuals.

    Comment by songstruck — 12:39 pm October 21, 2012 #

  10. Songstruck’s comment reminds me that – while I have no idea how time-efficient it is or is not for airport-goers – the new Metro Route 50 connects to Link light rail in SODO and at two South Seattle stops – here’s the current map (with the reroute that’s in effect till the Avalon/Genesee light is done): http://westseattleblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/RevRt50_withinset.pdf

    Comment by WSB — 12:47 pm October 21, 2012 #

  11. The Sound Transit plan discusses three options for the 560 on p. 74-75. I like option 3, because it improves 560 service to be all day AND weekends from Westwood to the airport. That will give me more options not only to the airport, but also Burien where I shop and use the library. Others may like the 120 to airport extension proposed.

    Comment by songstruck — 12:47 pm October 21, 2012 #

  12. Tracy,
    Good idea on 50/LINK. Metro Trip Planner shows 51 min to airport on that route from Alaska Junction midday. 128/LINK would be 1:11. 560 would be 43 min at peak hours.

    The 128/LINK is 1:02 midday from Morgan Junction.
    Current 560 would be 36 min at peak hours.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Comment by songstruck — 12:59 pm October 21, 2012 #

  13. Maybe ST should charge more for heavy rail service to off set taking away service from tax paying riders that don’t have the benefit of using rail i.e., West Seattle. I like and use the 560 service at the junction to Seatac. I just wish it could take me home too but my flight arrives too late. I walk about a mile with minimal luggage but it is still quite a burden even though I could catch the 50 on California. With the reliability of service being so poor now, I don’t want to chance missing my connection or leaving extra early just to stand and wait. We shouldn’t have transfers forced on us if there is no reliability.

    Comment by Bus rider — 1:09 pm October 21, 2012 #

  14. I fly twice a week in and out of Sea-tac.

    Unless you depart and arrive at airport during business hours it can take HOURS to get a bus to and from West Seattle.

    Currently, it is just not practical to take a bus to the airport, due to limited times (once an hour) and then the hour bus ride home.

    I can drive or take a cab in 30 minutes. My time is worth the $36.00 one way or trying to save $30.00

    Comment by Katie — 1:18 pm October 21, 2012 #

  15. Brian, sorry about taking up space at Westwood. We drivers do need to take a meal break, use the restroom, and have timeb in the schedule for when traffic is horrific so we don’t run late on our return trip. Ah, well. Maybe we. Can just have toilets installed in our seats?

    Comment by Jeff Welch — 4:30 pm October 21, 2012 #

  16. Why not leave the route as is, reduce the frequency of trips, but space them out over the course of a day so that most people are accomodated?

    I think that most people wouldn’t might waiting a bit at the airport, if it means saving on a cab, or avoiding a transfer loaded down with luggage. It means more passengers per trip, too.

    Comment by G — 4:30 pm October 21, 2012 #

  17. Seems as Metro and ST are doing what they can to push West Seattleites back into their cars.

    Comment by Rick — 5:06 pm October 21, 2012 #

  18. Honestly, all day plus weekend 560 service to Westwood would be an improvement over peak only service to the Junction, but I’ll probably opt for 50+Link. Link runs more often than any bus, and it just makes it easier to schedule the trip because I only have to know when the 50 runs instead guessing what time RR will get to WW to meet the 560.
    -
    Keep in mind Metro and ST are both struggling to meet demand with shrinking budgets. We’ll only get the service we’re willing to fund.

    Comment by Peter on Fauntleroy — 6:35 pm October 21, 2012 #

  19. This makes a lot of sense. Ridership was anemic on the 560 from the airport/Burien to WS. The alternative would be canceling that part completely (it was already reduced to a few peak-only trips).

    It also only served a narrow corridor along California to Alaska. From Westwood there are far more connections allowing a greater number of people to get to the airport.

    From North WS of course it is probably better to take the 50 to Sodo and transfer to rail.

    Comment by Moose2 — 8:36 pm October 21, 2012 #

  20. Moose, you’ve hit the nail on the head: ridership drives future transit decicions.

    Comment by Jeff Welch — 6:51 am October 22, 2012 #

  21. I think the comment by “G” makes the most sense: Reduce the frequency (especially in non-peak hours) which could potentially allow for maintaining the current route and space the schedule out so it can it fill up an entire day.

    Typically, when people are traveling to and from airport, they will be carrying various pieces of luggage. Forcing people to transfer from one bus to another bus (or even more) would be quite inconvenient. Especially those arriving at Sea-Tac. After flying for a few hours and dealing with all the airport hassles, the last thing they would want to do is be forced to change buses on their return home.

    The policies of ST are just giving people more reasons to use taxis and private shuttle companies.

    Comment by Ken — 9:47 am October 22, 2012 #

  22. To get to school, 6-10 kids get on in the Junction with more picked up along the route, (16-22 total). The number on the afternoon return trip varies with after school activities. Doesn’t justify Sound Transit keeping the route, just saying 1 trip each morning is regularly used. I question the reliability of the RRC to insure timely transfers in the morning given what I have read so far. Haven’t tried it, but definitely not eager to either.
    We travel frequently and liked to take the 560 to the airport, but since it has reduced service to the Junction, we park or shuttle. I doubt I would take RRC to Westwood for the 560, even though we travel light.

    Comment by Hometoday — 1:07 pm October 22, 2012 #

  23. It’s duplicating service to them while it is having to change buses and transfer several times for us. I think by making these kind of changes, as they have just done to West Seattleites across the board, they have self fulfilling prophesies. I don’t know about anyone else, but I will pay extra to take a non stop flight. I feel the same about buses. I will do just about anything to not have to transfer.

    Comment by Magpie — 2:11 pm October 22, 2012 #

  24. The more transfers a person has to make to get to one’s destination, the less time effective and convenient it is to use public transportation. To get to from my home with the new RapidCrowdedRide going through the Morgan District, I have to stand amongst the rain and the many and totally inconsiderate smokers at 35th and Avalon. Where are the NO SMOKING signs in these expensive new bus stops? This is hardly conducive to a pleasant commute. It really sucks. I’d rather preserve my lungs for the long term and bypass public transportation in the future. My health matters to me very much.

    Comment by Bill — 2:17 pm October 22, 2012 #

  25. So, it looks like we’re back where we started. Taking a bus from the Junction to downtown, or Sodo, to take light rail, a slow ponderous trip on small hard seats, leaving you on a cold, unenclosed station, for a walk through a parking garage. Try that in the middle of February.

    Neat.

    Comment by G — 3:37 pm October 22, 2012 #

  26. Ken, you’re absolutely right. The very last thing that folks want to do is transfer, especially after a long trip. We all know what a hassle flying is now.

    Since the 560 is an airport run, we need to look at it differently than the average bus route.

    Comment by G — 3:42 pm October 22, 2012 #

  27. The above comment thread is a good example of why some people are pissed off at the bus changes and others (like myself) are quite excited and happy about the recent changes.
    .
    If you want to continue to have one-seat rides to get places, then finances are going to require you to cut service completely at times or reduce frequency.
    .
    If you are willing to make transfers, the connecting routes can be run longer hours and/or with more frequency.

    Comment by Mickymse — 5:20 pm October 22, 2012 #

  28. Mickymse=sane.

    Comment by Jeff Welch — 8:14 pm October 22, 2012 #

  29. If something is not easy to use no one will use it. I have always taken this psychology as a rule of thumb for most situations. The more obstacles in the way the less desireable….especially if one is paying for it. I loved the bus when it was a 54 or 55 took it downtown for years. No transfer. When I fly I do nonstop for the same reason, less hassle and faster route to my destination. Remember the old rule, “KISS”. You cannot please everyone.

    Comment by Former West Seattle Bob — 8:58 am October 23, 2012 #

  30. This actually makes perfect sense to me. On the one hand you have full time service to WW Village and nearly everyone in West Seattle has access to the airport with a 2 seat ride. On the other hand (the current situation) only a very small number of people that live right on the 560 AND travel at peak hour have a 1 seat ride and everyone else has to go downtown or to SODO and transfer. I do hope common sense wins the day.

    Comment by gap — 4:09 pm October 24, 2012 #

  31. Also: Silly accusations that Metro and ST are engaged in intentional attempts to ruin your life are not only annoying, but hugely counterproductive. Let’s try to be adults.

    Comment by gap — 4:13 pm October 24, 2012 #

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