We’ve continued to follow up on the “bus crawl” – as at least one commenter called it – that’s been slowing Metro riders’ trips home to West Seattle recently. SDOT says it’ll try tweaking signal timing; Metro is reluctant to reroute. One voice we hadn’t heard from yet is that of County Councilmember Joe McDermott, the West Seattleite who represents this area (and beyond). He’s a member of the council’s Mobility and Environment Committee, which has a portfolio including transit. So we asked what he’s doing about it:
I’m both hearing about the problem from constituents and experiencing it myself. By all conclusions, it’s awful.
In response, I’ve been talking to Metro closely to elevate the issue and push for solutions. I’ve also kept in touch with Councilmember Herbold’s office since many of the solutions are going to require cooperation from SDOT. As a result, Metro is looking at several improvements and you can read more about them on their blog here.
As it has been explained to me by Metro, they looked at a few options when planning for the removal of the viaduct and the “period of maximum constraint” that we are suffering through now. Every route has challenges and made finding a predictable and reliable route difficult – whether it be contending with stadium event traffic, using the lower bridge and then risking delays due to boat traffic, or the current route which was better than other options but has clearly proven impossible on Fridays and challenging otherwise. You might remember Metro using 4th and 6th Avenues during the February shut down of the viaduct and I brought this up with Metro. They pointed out that in order to use the high bridge they need to go down First. If they use 4th or 6th Avenues outbound to West Seattle, they use the lower bridge. This worked during the closure in February because they had a special agreement with the Coast Guard not to allow boat traffic during peak bus commuting hours. Now, they can’t be guaranteed boat traffic won’t significantly delay their buses. Of course, we get that they are seeing significant delays anyway so that is why we are encouraging them to take another look at the options. There is also conversation about adding service to the 50 so that people might avoid the situation by taking light rail and then transferring to the 50 at the SoDo station.
Metro has assured us they are working closely with SDOT on solutions that will help improve the temporary route. The permanent route will avoid First Avenue all together by using Alaskan Way and the newly rebuilt Columbia Street, but that permanent pathway is scheduled to open in early 2020.
We will continue to work with Metro and Councilmember Herbold’s office/SDOT. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and feedback.
He’s at firstname.lastname@example.org.