SLOW BUSES: County Executive offers new hope for alternate Metro routing

(C coach seen by Will on 4th Tuesday. Metro told us at the time it wasn’t route-testing, but …)

During the pm commute hours today, Metro routed West Seattle-bound buses off 1st Avenue to avert a pre-Seahawks traffic jam, even though the transit system started the week by saying alternate routing wasn’t really a option to relieve the chronic crunch. And suddenly there’s hope it might be an option after all. That came in the form of this statement from King County Executive Dow Constantine, billed :

Since before the Viaduct closure and demolition earlier this year, our community planned together for the ‘Seattle Squeeze’ – several years of construction that makes getting around downtown and the region challenging. We survived ‘Via-doom’ thanks to extraordinary efforts by transportation agencies and the public, who adjusted their schedules and routes.

This summer, downtown commuters have been frustrated as Metro travel times worsened due to continued work on the waterfront, preparations for expanded light rail service in 2021, new commercial developments, and other factors. Riders to West Seattle, Burien, and other locations using the SR99 corridor have experienced especially slow peak commutes in the afternoon.

We have taken steps to ease these impacts, but we are not satisfied and are committed to doing more. King County Metro staff continue to work together with the Seattle Department of Transportation to help keep buses, people, and goods moving.

With the opening this winter of a transit corridor on Columbia Street to the waterfront, and a new Alaskan Way South with transit priority in 2021, the situation will improve. But we are not willing to wait, and pledge to do all we can together to keep buses moving through this challenging period.

Tonight’s Seahawks game provides us the chance to see how an alternate rerouted pathway that uses Fourth Avenue South would work until Alaskan Way is once again open for buses. We hope it is successful and that we will learn new information that offers better solutions. But the downtown Seattle grid is at maximum capacity, and there are challenges with every option available to us.

Our future lies in a robust light rail and bus network, and a waterfront open to all. As the region rapidly evolves, we will do everything in our power to ensure the Seattle Squeeze becomes a minor inconvenience rather than a major headache.

So far we’ve heard mostly positive reviews; we’ll ask tomorrow about what will happen with that “new information.”

Two other related notes:

-City Councilmember Lisa Herbold is asking the mayor to get involved.

-West Seattle bus rider Charlotte has launched an online petition to urge that the buses be moved off 1st. You can “sign” it here.

35 Replies to "SLOW BUSES: County Executive offers new hope for alternate Metro routing"

  • Jason August 8, 2019 (10:29 pm)

    The commute tonight was not good. I hope they find a better route.

    • Pdxmark77 August 8, 2019 (11:41 pm)

      Even with the re-route?  I don’t know what else they can do since the reroute didn’t work,    But last night was different with the Seahawks playing on a Thursday night snd the water taxi being out of service,

  • bolo August 8, 2019 (11:14 pm)

    Seems to be how bureaucracy works. It designs a solution, but if the solution does not work well there is much intertia to overcome in order to change it or otherwise improve it. Almost as if they cannot admit the original solution was flawed or otherwise problematical.

    Let’s hope they can open enough to be able to improve their “solution.”

    Just curious: Why does it take a football game to be able to implement a (temporary) improved solution? Does the NFL kick in extra money?

  • Swede. August 8, 2019 (11:20 pm)

    The ‘TEST’ signage doesn’t  necessarily mean it actually is a test. Mechanics and service guys use it when test driving, swap out a broken coach for a good one and other things like that because it also say ‘No Passengers’ on the signs. It doesn’t always work and people still try to get aboard though…

  • Ktrapp August 9, 2019 (7:01 am)

    I grabbed a C around 4:30.  It actually went relatively smoothly.  The driver reported we were about 5 minutes behind schedule by the time we hit West Seattle.  I’d guess it was entirely due to the game.  Considering we’re usually at least 15 minutes, if not 30 minutes late, I’d say it was an improvement.

  • K August 9, 2019 (7:50 am)

    Morning commutes are not an issue. They should make an afternoon bus line that picks up at the sodo light rail and then continues the C line route on west seattle. 

    • AMD August 9, 2019 (8:07 am)

      What about us 120 riders?  We get trapped in that mess too.  : (

  • C August 9, 2019 (8:14 am)

    Commute yesterday was terrible. The alternative on 4th did not work.They need to find a bus only route to WS. Otherwise, any option will not work.

  • Lafille August 9, 2019 (8:17 am)

    Thursday evening’s last Route 37 of the day was over 30 minutes late arriving at the first pickup point at 4th and Lenora. That, combined with the football related congestion, made for an extremely long commute for a 6 mile journey.

  • Jenny August 9, 2019 (8:23 am)

    Last night’s reroute was terrible! Buses stacked up waiting to get to the last bus stop on 3rd, then again to make the turn off of 3rd, then stacked up again at other points on 2nd heading south. If that’s the best they can do, traffic cops need to be positioned at some of the other bottlenecks–not just near the stadium.

  • Loretta August 9, 2019 (8:38 am)

    I used to commute by bus everyday in the afternoon pre via doom. I took it twice post via doom and never again. The commute times are so slow it’s faster to bike. It’s a shame the viaduct closure has made it worse for public transportation but much better for cars. The city is car centric. Go cars !

    • B.W. August 10, 2019 (10:03 am)

      Heck ya! That’s why I just bought a new shiny toy. 

  • KJ August 9, 2019 (10:07 am)

    If they do choose an alternate route I hope they still consider those of us working in Pioneer Square who finally just got access to bus routes that work for us with the addition of the 1st & King stop. If the bus moves to another street I’d like to see a stop that is still usable for us implemented. The alternative yesterday of having to walk North to 3rd & Columbia from the stadium area is not a viable solution and would result in many of us returning to SOV commutes.

  • MJ August 9, 2019 (10:10 am)

    The problem is so bad I suspect many people have resorted to driving, not a good answer.  Maybe an interim plan is to ban all delivery stops on 1st Avenue between 1500 and 1800 and strictly enforce no left turns.  And the WT getting back in service next week provides an alternative.Further enhancing bus service to the Sodo Light Rail needs to be considered.

  • 120rider August 9, 2019 (10:18 am)

    took 62 minutes on a 330pm departure from 3rd/seneca.   8 minutes longer than Tuesdays commute.  my bus was NOT rerouted.   way to fix the problem metro.  Dow, sorry, your solutions belong on the bottom of a bird cage.

  • Brayton August 9, 2019 (10:20 am)

    I was hoping it would go smoother, but it didn’t quite pan out for everyone. Too many turns. If the buses could continue south on 3rd after Columbia…

    • CAM August 9, 2019 (1:33 pm)

      Trust me, based on experience, you do not want any more buses forced to go on 3rd past James. Those last few blocks on 3rd before 4th are one lane and prone to back up 3 blocks back with buses at times waiting to get through the stop at 3rd and Main. 

  • BPK August 9, 2019 (10:25 am)

    This is the period of maximum constraint.  Nothing is going to be perfect, nor is going back to the way it was.  We’ve all been warned through all mediums of communication; television, social media, print, etc.  This should not be a surprise to anyone and, the expectation that it should be perfect is nonsense.  I have had to adapt my commute timing to fit with our new (and temporary) commuting options.  My only arm chair advice (which Seattleites just LOVE to do) is get Mayor Durkin/SDOT and Executive Constantine/Metro to work together to work on signal priority, removal of parking along the 1st avenue corridor between Columbia and Dearborn and traffic control while working with WSDOT to accelerate schedule for building the new Columbia Street – Alaska Way connection.  Beyond that, quit whining.

    • Sunuva August 9, 2019 (12:09 pm)

      It’s not that I’m expecting it to be perfect, just not absolutely terrible. Anything better than taking 2 hours to go 8 miles would be an improvement.

    • Kyle August 9, 2019 (9:00 pm)

      The period of maximum constraint doesn’t seem to be worse for cars. Should we all drive and give up on the 2 hour bus commutes?

  • Peter August 9, 2019 (10:57 am)

    Thursday night’s commute was a nightmare. The worst I’ve ever seen. The number one thing the city could do is not allow events of 5,000 people or more to start or end between 3:00 pm and 9:00 pm. 

    • Rumbles August 9, 2019 (12:01 pm)

      LOL!  That would pretty much cover any major event!  

    • Sam August 9, 2019 (12:44 pm)

      The one thing that would actually make sense for the city to do would be ban private cars in the commercial core. There are too many people trying to drive to their job downtown still and that shouldn’t even be an option.

  • 120rider August 9, 2019 (11:19 am)

    maybe(BIG ON THE MAYBE) things would have moved better last night if those policemen directing traffic were doing that instead of talking to the nice women sitting on the outdoor bar patio.  just maybe. 

  • newnative August 9, 2019 (11:36 am)

    Last night was a mixed bag, my coworker left early (4:10) and got home early. My commute from Lower Queen Anne to Downtown took over half hour at 5pm. Mostly due to SOV cars “blocking the box”. I had business downtown and when I caught the penultimate 56 at 7pm, the reroute seemed okay. We did get stuck at the train tracks (slow freight train) but I got home around 7:30. At least three out of the work week, I stay late and catch one of the last two buses and the jams are mostly over by then. I would prefer it if those keep the Pioneer Square stop as it’s easier to catch the bus that way. 

  • Sunuva August 9, 2019 (12:14 pm)

    My commute went pretty good getting on a 125 at 5:05. I mean, still standing room only and lots of traffic, but we made it to Delridge by 5:30 which is  by far the best time I’ve experienced in weeks. Sounds like that wasn’t the case for everybody. Maybe they could make a similar route work though, just stay off of 1st through Pioneer Square at all costs.. and maybe add a stop near the Stadiums for those who work in Pioneer Square and were appreciating the new stop? I think this could work based on my experience.

  • Josh August 9, 2019 (1:36 pm)

    My wife rode (and loved) the C line until this year. She now drives in every day, it’s half the time. We love it. She leaves later and is home earlier. I thought the C line was great, but driving is actually better.

  • Jim P. August 9, 2019 (1:42 pm)

    started the week by saying alternate routing wasn’t really a option to relieve the chronic crunch.”That is standard bureaucratic reflex to prevent anyone from even hinting someone on their end didn’t do their work right.  Decisions was almost assuredly made by someone who does not actually depend on the buses.It is obvious there are number alternate routes that can be used instead of piling every WS route onto 1st street, a street already badly overloaded that runs right by a couple of major sports stadiums.  They used them at the beginning of this changeover.It would help, a lot, is SPD would station traffic control officers at choke points and put parking enforcement officers on foot along the corridor.  One “I’ll just pull over for a moment to run in and get something” or a Lyft or Uber pickup or drop off (and those people will stop any **** where they please including smack in the middle of a bus stop with buses approaching). can muck up traffic flow for an hour beyond their little pause.Seattle is simply outgrowing the capacity of ancient downtown streets never meant to wander among fifty, sixty, seventy story skyscrapers in all directions.  And it’s just going to get worse, probably much worse as we turn into Manhattan West but without a real subway system to serve as a pressure relief.

  • Mickymse August 9, 2019 (2:21 pm)

    There isn’t some magic solution to avoid traffic. I’m glad everyone is so upset now, but perhaps you should have been paying attention the last few years when all the planning for this was being done, and plenty of community groups were warning everyone. Now is too late.And I hope last night’s commute made folks realize that 4th Avenue is not a magic solution that Metro has just been ignoring despite repeated comments.Has everyone simply forgotten that we used to have awful commutes on the Viaduct on game days as well? (Or when fish trucks overturned?) Honestly, I’m finding that my commutes are generally about the same as what they always were (although I don’t get on until 3rd & Columbia) with about 5-10 minutes added sometimes to traverse Pioneer Square, but that was always the plan without accessing 99 at Columbia.

  • Sarah August 9, 2019 (2:32 pm)

    As I posted on an earlier story, my commute home with a re-routed 21X was the fastest it has been in weeks, maybe months. It may have been because I left a bit early, basically five on the dot. Leaving at that same time without the reroute however has been full of delay in pioneer sq.

  • 120rider August 9, 2019 (5:07 pm)

    eastside rider got their own painted bus lane, jussayin 

  • Trickycoolj August 9, 2019 (5:40 pm)

    Time to pressure your employers into flexible schedules. When I leave for work at 6am there’s not a soul on the road around West Seattle. In my office 7am is practically considered late. People start to head home by 2:30. Ask your bosses, why does your butt need to be in your cubicle at exactly 8am until exactly 5pm?  4x10s, 3x12s, 9x80s, start early-leave early, start late-leave late, coordinate schedules with your colleagues for coverage.

  • JP August 9, 2019 (9:15 pm)

    After three weeks of slow commutes, the bus sailed through 1st Avenue and we arrived at the junction tonight ahead of schedule.  The driver stopped and waited for 10 minutes to get back on schedule.  That made no sense. 

  • KT August 10, 2019 (9:47 am)

    “We have taken steps to ease these impacts, but we are not satisfied and are committed to doing more. King County Metro staff continue to work together with the Seattle Department of Transportation to help keep buses, people, and goods moving…we will do everything in our power to ensure the Seattle Squeeze becomes a minor inconvenience rather than a major headache…”   Talk, talk, talk……

  • CD August 12, 2019 (8:49 am)

    My evening bus commute took an hour and 45 mins (usually takes around 45). Unfortunately, my bus stop is on 2nd and traffic was extra bad due to cars blocking the box. Plenty of bicycle cops down there due to a demonstration who were just standing there watching it happen.

Sorry, comment time is over.