As another afternoon commute begins, we followed up on the complaints about last Friday, especially from bus riders caught in gridlock making their way to/through the south side of downtown. Along with complaints, some commenters had suggestions. We asked Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer if any changes were planned to try to address the problem. Short answer, no. Longer:
Friday’s downtown traffic was especially difficult, with a Mariners home game and the start of the Bite of Seattle, and what seemed like a lot more traffic downtown. We continue to monitor and work to get our buses through that traffic as best we can, which can reach gridlock conditions at times due to construction, viaduct demolition, and the Seattle Squeeze.
Having Alaskan Way and 2-way Columbia Street completed will allow our buses to shift there instead, but that is still several months away. For West Seattle riders who must travel during peak times, the service on the street can unfortunately face traffic delays, but we also have options worth considering, including the Water Taxi and Ride2 and water taxi shuttles, and Link/Route 50.
The reference to Alaskan Way/2-way Columbia Street is a reminder of what we’ve pointed out in comment discussions, that buses are not on their permanent route – this map (PDF) shows the future “pathways.” Meantime, one WSB reader, Charlie, CC’d us on a note to City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s office about the bus frustration. While buses are a county service, the city has had increasing involvement by funding added service. Charlie pointed out the WSB discussion and ideas for easing the jam. Herbold staffer Newell Aldrich CC’d us on the reply, which notes they’ve raised concerns previously and are asking new SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe to address the suggestions. They also shared an SDOT reply from previous correspondence two months ago explaining various reasons why the department feels a bus-only lane on 1st wouldn’t be feasible.