West Seattle buses: Sound Transit 560 service cuts kick in soon

(Route 560 bus photo by Flickr member Atomic Taco)
The date is set for service cuts on Sound Transit Route 560 – June 11th. We found this out thanks to Nicholas, who uses Route 560 regularly between West Seattle and Sea-Tac and heard that the service was about to be reduced. ST spokesperson Kimberly Reason confirms it to WSB:

As first communicated last year in our DRAFT 2011 SIP (Service Implementation Plan) and posted in the final 2011 SIP, the 560 will continue to run during the weekday, but the route segment between West Seattle Junction and Burien Transit Center is being discontinued weeknights and weekends beginning June 11th. The West Seattle segment will operate from approximately 4:20 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. and from 3:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. on weekdays.

As background, total Route 560 ridership has declined about 23 percent between 2nd Quarter 2009 and the same period in 2010. This does not necessarily mean that these riders are lost but it is likely that many now use other public transit services.

With the increased availability of Metro alternatives between many of the points served by Route 560, the West Seattle-Burien segment will be deleted entirely except during weekday commuter hours. This will continue to provide West Seattle residents with direct access to the airport during peak demand times while achieving significant cost savings. Alternative West Seattle-Airport service is now available outside of commuter hours using Metro Route 128, which operates between West Seattle and the Tukwila International Boulevard Station with a one-station connection to the airport via light rail.

A detailed explanation (starting on page 72 of this document) notes also that midday service on the route was cut from every half hour to once an hour last year, and that too may account for ridership reduction. Meantime, another ST document notes that further restructuring of Route 560 is possible in 2013, “in conjunction with startup of Metro Rapid Ride Line F (Renton-Burien),” which is to replace Metro Route 140.

36 Replies to "West Seattle buses: Sound Transit 560 service cuts kick in soon"

  • LAintheJunction May 25, 2011 (2:22 pm)

    This is exactly not helpful for those of us who use the 560 to get to the airport without going through downtown. I understand that budget cuts are tough, but it seems that given that we have no light rail, no monorail, and projected 2-3 year lane reductions on Hwy 99 (not to mention impending construction from the tunnel), cutting even more transit access to/from West Seattle is NOT the way to go.

    For being the biggest neighborhood in Seattle, it seems like the rest of the city would be happy if we’re never able off the rock. Dislike.

  • CandrewB May 25, 2011 (2:26 pm)

    “the route segment between West Seattle Junction and Burien Transit Center is being discontinued”

    Does this mean we will not be able to take the 560 to SeaTac on Saturday or Sundays?

    Is their alternative to go into the city to take light rail?

  • Jeanie May 25, 2011 (2:28 pm)

    I’m really sorry to hear that the 560 is ceasing operations on nights and weekends. It is certainly my favorite ride to the airport and puts one much closer than the train.

  • orcmid May 25, 2011 (2:38 pm)

    I also use 560 not only for transit to the airport but for travel to the Burien Transit Center and transfer to a local for reaching Highline Medical Center.

    I have already had to adjust to the reduction in mid-Day service by making later-in-the-day appointments. Now that might not help, if I can’t get a 560 before 3pm.

  • old timer May 25, 2011 (2:47 pm)

    Really, such a crap deal.
    The last 128 leaves the light rail station @ 9:55 p.m.
    I have no clue how much earlier you’d have to leave the airport on a light rail to make this last bus.
    Elapsed time to the Junction -about 50 minutes, not counting the light rail part.
    Forget Sundays, no 128 past about 8:35 p.m.
    The current last 560 is 11:15 p.m. Sunday, 11:17 p.m.
    Elapsed time to the junction – about 40 minutes without any transfer.
    So, late incoming flight – it’s a Taxi ($$$$), or
    Shuttle Express ($$$),
    or Light rail to town and hang out with your luggage
    on fantastic 3rd ave waiting for a 54 or a 21 or go to who knows where for an 85 ($, unless you get mugged).
    Thanks Sound Transit – levies, special taxes, higher fares and service cuts.
    Great management perks though.

  • Pat May 25, 2011 (3:08 pm)

    I am completely in agreement with LAintheJunction on this – it’s exactly what I was going to post to say.

    The 560 is my primary way of getting to the airport. It takes about 30 minutes from my house to the airport. Their proposed alternative of the 128 takes almost a full hour JUST to get from Morgan Junction to the Tukwila station, then you’ve got to wait for a further trip (light rail) to get to the actual airport.

    I’m really sorry to see this happen.

  • 2wheels a-go-go May 25, 2011 (3:19 pm)

    This is sad. Unless you’re flying during those very brief time periods, the only only option getting to the airport from West Seattle via public transportation is to head north to downtown to catch a bus or to SODO to catch the light rail (in either case, you’re looking at a 90 minute trip vs. what takes 30 minutes on the #560).
    On a side note, I’ll relay my experience getting to the airport via bus from the Admiral Junction in order to catch a 6:00am flight. It was a *2.5 hour* journey, starting on the #85 which first went south to White Center before going back north to downtown, where I transferred to a #124 taking me to the Tukwila Link Station, where I then transferred again to the A-line Rapid Ride bus, which dropped me off on International Blvd, a half mile walk from the terminal.

  • DRW May 25, 2011 (3:34 pm)

    Not cool.

  • jiggers May 25, 2011 (3:58 pm)

    I never saw people use that bus. It was always empty.

  • 2wheels a-go-go May 25, 2011 (4:14 pm)

    @Jiggers: Saying it was “always empty” is a bit dubious. Every time I’ve taken the 560 to the airport (which is my preferred method if the times work out) there have been at least a handful of people boarding at its first stop in the Alaska Junction. And by the time it reached White Center, there would be a couple dozen people at minimum.
    I would argue that it’s kind of a chicken and egg phenomenon: not many people take the 560 because it doesn’t run often enough, and it doesn’t run very often because ridership is down. I’d encourage Sound Transit to study *increasing* the frequency of this route, along with a publicity campaign, and see if that increases ridership. Increasing ridership, after all, should be the goal of any public transit system.

  • dwar May 25, 2011 (4:34 pm)

    Another broken promise by our representstive government. This is the only service West Seattle gets from the taxes we send to Sound Transit and little by little they are taking it away and using our money to build service to other neighborhoods. First elimination of the International District portion, then mid day service, and now this. Why don’t they reduce our taxes accordingly??

  • dhg May 25, 2011 (4:37 pm)

    This totally sucks. It is our first choice for getting to the airport.

    I tried using a shuttle just once. They called me at 3:30am to say they could not send someone out so they’d call a taxi and would pay the difference in cost. As it turned out, there was no difference. So, no reason to use the shuttle…

  • BlueCollarEnviro May 25, 2011 (4:47 pm)

    West Seattle is getting RapidRide before any other Seattle neighborhoods. Don’t play the victim card here.

    West Seattle had several years to fill up the 560. It didn’t even come close. ST slashes bus service in order to preserve the runs that are full, and to build higher-capacity transit. West Seattle isn’t exempt from this fiscally responsible approach.

  • BlueCollarEnviro May 25, 2011 (4:49 pm)

    BTW, if West Seattle is serious about working with the transit agencies, then give the Rapid[sic]Ride its own dedicated lanes, 24/7.

    And don’t do business with establishments that insist on allowing parking in those lanes.

  • Eric May 25, 2011 (5:14 pm)

    Absolute #FAIL

    The one Sound Transit route that used to be a serviceable public transit connection to downtown Seattle AND Sea-Tac Airport is getting its route chopped even more and diminishing its value-add to the community.

    I can live without its downtown Seattle connection, which was trimmed a few years back, but ST 560’s service from West Seattle to White Center, Burien and Sea-Tac is an essential artery fulfilling commuter and passenger needs for these communities.

    Evening and weekend cuts, despite what the numbers say, is unacceptable — especially when passengers are pushed towards the “alternative” of taking Metro Route 128 from West Seattle to Tukwila and offering the option to travel by Sound Transit’s light rail to the airport. Factor in the travel time to do that and potential riders on this route might need to put another hour into their connection just to get to Sea-Tac.

    I agree with most other comments posted here, especially those added by dwar and dhg above. This is a complete failure on Sound Transit’s part.

  • chas redmond May 25, 2011 (5:28 pm)

    West Seattle is getting RapidRide before any other Seattle neighborhoods. Don’t play the victim card here.

    Blue Card Enviro –

    actually that’s not true. RapidRideA is already running between Federal Way TC and Tukwilla Int. Station. RapidRide D – the Ballard route, and RapidRide B – the Eastside route, and probably RapidRide E (Aurora) will all be implemented prior to RapidRide C – the West Seattle line. So, we’re not getting better bus service before other neighborhoods – not by a long shot.

  • gatewooder May 25, 2011 (5:45 pm)

    So now West Seattle gets zero service in return for all the money we still have to pay into Sound Transit regardless. This adds insult to injury, given that when rate increases were recently voted upon, ST promised to do a light rail study for WS. Fool me once, shame on me…

  • Really? May 25, 2011 (6:05 pm)

    Really? It has been 3/4 full when I have taken it to and from the airport. Guess I’ll be another car on the road.

  • M May 25, 2011 (9:04 pm)

    So almost 9 months after this was announced as being a possibility, people take notice? There was a public hearing, a comment period, articles both in blogs and normal media websites. It’s fine that you’re upset but it’s not the like the opportunity wasn’t presented for you to voice your opinion when it could have changed the decision.

    As an aside, I ride the 85 fairly often and no one transfers from the 85 to the 560 at 415 in the morning. Instead, they stay on the 85 to get to Link at Stadium Station.

  • metrognome May 25, 2011 (9:32 pm)

    actually, gatewooder, it was mayoral candidate Mike McGinn, not Sound Transit, who was pushing light rail to WS as a campaign issue …

  • CeeBee May 25, 2011 (10:16 pm)

    M – yep, I commented online, turned out for the meetings and told them that they should retain the service until the Rapid Ride promise came home. Did a lot of good…..

  • Blue Collar Enviro May 26, 2011 (1:22 am)


    You’ve got your timeline all wrong, and I did say *Seattle* neighborhoods.

    The A and B lines don’t serve Seattle. The C and D are the same line, coupled downtown, and going into service simultaneously. The E line will come into service a year later.

    I suppose I could also mention the monorail. Seattleites all ended up getting taxed to provide additional bus service in West Seattle.

    So, take the attitude that tax revenue raised in West Seattle should be spent in West Seattle if you will, but consider that if the converse — that taxes not raised in West Seattle should not be spent in West Seattle, then that that might mean a lot less bus service in West Seattle.

  • Blue Collar Enviro May 26, 2011 (1:30 am)

    As for funding promises, my recollection is that the 560 service in West Seattle was part of the post-monorail spending plan, not the ST2 bond package. The monorail money is now spent.

    There is still time to lobby CTAC III and the TAB to subsidize Metro service similar to the 560. Delridge could still be as early as seventh in line for RapidRide, with such a line hopefully reaching the airport.

  • JimmyG May 26, 2011 (8:49 am)

    Rapid Ride “A” line is a joke, any of you ridden it?
    Full of the same non-paying thugs as used to be on the 174.
    The “C” line here in WS isn’t going to be Rapid, and it isn’t any better than what we have now, but they’ve got dedicated transit money they must spend on it.

    ST’s answer to cuts on the 560 is to push you onto the 128 and then a one stop ride from Tukwila Int’l Blvd station to the SeaTac station? I’ll be back in my car for trips to the airport–one more car back on the road.

    RIP 560, it was a great express to the airport while it lasted.

  • Lance May 26, 2011 (10:19 am)

    I just learned of this service cut :( We rely on this route. My partner works for Alaska Air and we use this for commuting to/from airport. The ‘other’ public transit way is ardious & unworkable for commute purposes. Guess it’s another car on the road after June 11 :(

  • metrognome May 26, 2011 (11:22 am)

    BlueCollarEnviro — not right. The 560 has been around since long before the monorail; as someone else pointed out, it used to cross the Bridge and terminate in the ID. The 560 is one of ST’s original routes from the initial plan. There was no ‘post-Monorail plan.’ The monorail was a separate entity from Metro, ST, city of Seattle, King County, etc.
    The 6 current RapidRide corridors were part of the TransitNow package King County submitted to voters; only the ‘A Line’ has opened so far. The ‘F Line’, set for fall 2013, will connect the Burien Transit Center with the Renton TC via Southcenter; it will stop at the Tukwila Link Station and will not make the deviation to the airport (expensive in terms of schedule and therefore $$). Highly unlikely there will be a seventh line, esp. in this $$ environment.
    Metro will be restructuring WS service as part of the WS RapidRide ‘C Line’; if people want their ideas considered, they should keep an eye on the Blog for the formation of the citizen sounding board, public meetings, etc. It should begin soon, as the C Line is set to start with the fall 2012 service change.

    • WSB May 26, 2011 (11:29 am)

      MG, believe me, we will be looking under every rock for info on that round and publicizing it as best as we can. While I am sure the fine people at ST went through all the requirements for the “SIP” including this change, this change did not get major overt callouts, not here, not elsewhere (I scoured the Web looking to see what I had missed, and could not find any other news organizations mentioning it either). Our last major mention of possible 560 changes was two years ago, when there was a proposal for something even more radical, like ending it entirely. We do our best to scour agendas and reports looking for this kind of thing – and we are grateful to the many watchful WSB’ers (like the person whose tip led to this story; ST says they’ll be putting out a general news release in “early June”) – but once in a while something goes by, if it’s not announced loudly and specifically … TR

  • CandrewB May 26, 2011 (11:54 am)

    Perhaps it was a social equity decision. I assume they are also cancelling the Bellevue to SeaTac portion.

  • metrognome May 26, 2011 (12:17 pm)

    TR — my comments were not meant as a criticism; I am constantly amazed at your diligence and the network of ‘informants’ you have.
    From a transit planning perspective, this would be considered a minor change and may not even be subject to federal regs on community input (I’m not saying I agree …) Keep in mind that ST operates ‘regional’ service and may not be as aware of community concerns, service needs, etc. as the local transit agencies (that would be Metro.)
    Also, the 560 is an oddball route for ST, as a regional provider (their bus service was originally called REX for Regional EXpress). The tail of the route into WS (and the ID) was really designed to offer WS some ‘subarea’ equity for all the tax dollars being collected here by attempting to connect WS to other transit services (i.e. the ID tunnel station, the airport, etc.) In the current economic climate, they are looking to reduce costs by cutting ‘unproductive’ service based on ridership(again, I’m not saying I agree.) Sometimes, service is added or the route is tweaked in an attempt to improve productivity or sometimes, it is pruned back until it dies.

  • Charles May 26, 2011 (1:39 pm)

    My next need to get to the airport was planned weeks ago and conveniently coincides exactly w/ the date of the “shut-down.” I’ve happily used the 560 to get to the airport for the last couple of years, though only a handful of times per year. Not even driving and parking is as quick and convenient. W/o this service being available, I’ll be back in the car and parking again despite the cost. Bus-route alternatives are unacceptable to me. In checking them out, I find the need to transfer and the overall travel time do not instill enough confidence to get me to the airport in a timely manner. Because of where my home is, I won’t benefit from Rapid Ride either. I want my tax money back!

  • cristie May 26, 2011 (4:22 pm)

    Ugh. I have been so happy with the ease of getting to the airport from West Seattle. Although the 128 affair seems to still be within the realm of reason timewise for me, having to transfer can make a big difference with luggage. And my next trip flies out on June 11th. Sigh. I AM Glad to have heard about it so I can plan for it!

  • Sue May 27, 2011 (5:25 pm)

    Cristie, I’m with you – I would not generally have a problem heading downtown to get light rail, except that with luggage it’s a hassle. It’s hard enough sometimes when I travel alone and have to get it up and down the stairs of the one bus.

  • george May 30, 2011 (8:44 pm)

    This service is being cut days before I was going to give it a try for the first time. Now, according to King Co Metro’s Trip Planner, I basically have to pull an all-nighter to use public transit to catch a 6 a.m. flight!

  • Nicholas Jones June 2, 2011 (9:29 am)

    This is real act of betrayal by Sound Transit. I sold my car and have one year until I retire. I work on the weekends at Sea-Tac Airport and now I don’t know how I’ll be able to get there at my 7 am start time. It’s especially galling when I watch the “voice of reason” commercials on TV touting taking the bus as the sensible choice in transportation. An additional slap in the face is that I read that Sound Transit plan to spend about $1.5 million (not sure of that exact amount) to research why more people don’t choose the bus as their transportation choice. Service! That’s why. They have to have a bus going when we need it to where we need it for people to hop on board. Duh! Sound Transit can send me the check.

  • Susie Cuypers June 2, 2011 (6:33 pm)

    This change really messes me up. I live in the WS Junction area and work in Kent. I do not have a car and I have been using Metro for almost 30 years. Not only will this route be limited, but route #180 to Auburn will be leaving almost 10 minutes earlier from the Burien P & R, so, unless the #560 will be arriving at the Burien P & R 10 minutes earlier, there is no way for me to make the connection. Does this mean my commute will vbe longer? Instead of being gone about 12 hours a day, will it change to 13 or more hours a day? I can barely handle it as it is – I am not as young anymore. Rates go up, services go down. Hey, Metro, got any job openings for me Downtown?

  • Will June 2, 2011 (9:14 pm)

    You’ve got to be kidding. I’ve taken the 560 for the last seven years 5 days a week. I’m sure they will end the route after the shock wears off from the June 11th change. What’s wrong with having a route for the people and not just for profit. Shame on you Sound Transit. Take the money and run.

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