Metro bus and Water Taxi service increasing June 22nd. But long-term cuts loom

(WSB file photo)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Metro believes it can handle the demand for bus service that will eventually arise due to the West Seattle Bridge closure.

That’s despite its plans for long-term cuts.

We covered a briefing this morning with Metro officials as they announced that some service will be restored June 22nd, both for buses and the Water Taxi. But – the September “service change” will see some long-term bus cuts, especially with an eye toward the end of some funding Seattle has been providing via the Transportation Benefit District.

First – here’s the full Metro announcement, regarding the entire system. An excerpt:

The transit services in operation in September will be about 85% of pre-COVID levels, providing an estimated 11,000 weekday trips on 121 bus routes. Service will focus primarily on a network of all-day routes throughout King County, including preserving frequent service on Metro’s busiest routes, while restoring peak service sufficient to meet returning demand to the extent possible given the current financial challenges. The cuts are made with direction from the City of Seattle in expectation that the Seattle Transportation Benefit District will discontinue revenue collections at the end of the year. (Metro says it still is awaiting something “definitive” from the city on whether a renewal measure will be pursued.)

While some weekday peak-period commuter routes will be restored, many peak routes will remain suspended in anticipation that long-term commuter ridership demand will take time to recover as many large employers continue having employees telework. Night, evening, and weekend service also will be significantly reduced.

Two West Seattle routes will not come back at all in June or September – the 22 and 37. Metro says those were the lowest-ridership routes on the peninsula even pre-COVID-19 (although some riders have pointed out the chicken-and-egg nature of ridership dropping because of cuts). The only West Seattle routes listed as NOT facing long-term cuts are 21X, 128, and the 131. And beyond September, Metro expects to need to make more cuts, as its projected revenue loss through 2022 – between taxes and farebox – is $615 million.

Metro, by the way, is looking at late June/early July for reinstating fares – they have some safety measures to implement in the meantime.

Since the Metro announcement did not specifically mention response to the West Seattle Bridge closure, that was our question.

“We’re very well aware of (those) challenges,” Metro GM Rob Gannon replied, saying Metro has been “working nonstop” on related issues since the closure, coordinating with the city. He left the specifics to Metro’s Bill Bryant, who promised that WS riders “will see real improvements” on June 22nd and September 19th. He also noted that – for WS and elsewhere – Metro has the ability to increase service on routes quickly, “if we see a spike.”

The expectation that they can meet West Seattle demand is also based on the expectation of relaxed social-distancing guidelines. Metro in the meantime stresses that it’s doing what it can to increase confidence n safety. But it’s been talking with the city regarding increasing West Seattle demand and while the service might not be “as convenient as in the past” or cover the previous span of hours, “it will be adequate to provide the needed capacity.”

As for the Water Taxi, Bryant said it will return to its full “winter schedule” – 5 days a week, commute dayparts – on June 22nd, with the shuttle routes returning too. Longer term, they are considering adding a second boat for the WT – the dock at Seacrest could handle up to 3 sailings an hour. What about shuttle routes that cover more of the peninsula than the standard two? That’s not in the plan for June or September, Metro says, but is under consideration for longer-term planning.

Again, this briefing wasn’t specifically about West Seattle transit – it was Metro’s systemwide announcement of June/September plans – so we expect to hear more specifics in the “Reconnect West Seattle” plan that SDOT has promised. Metro also will have more details soon on the June 22 increases system-wide.

27 Replies to "Metro bus and Water Taxi service increasing June 22nd. But long-term cuts loom"

  • Sam June 11, 2020 (2:03 pm)

    Are they cutting the 37 forever or it’s just not coming back in September?

  • Sam June 11, 2020 (2:06 pm)

    Is the 37 ever coming back or it just won’t return till after September?

    • ADM June 11, 2020 (7:58 pm)

      The article states that the 37 will NOT return at all, not even in September :(

  • Sue H June 11, 2020 (2:36 pm)

    Maybe if the 22 ran more often than once an hour, it would’ve been more popular. I live in Gatewood and it stops right near my condo. I would’ve happily taken that bus up to the junction instead of driving.  But it’s hard to schedule anything when it’s an hourly bus. Even for commuting to work, I could use that to transfer to the C, except that I need to be running 25 minutes late to catch it and had to walk instead. I feel bad for people who don’t have the easy option of just walking to an alternative bus. While I do own a car, I always made sure a bus stop was in reasonable distance to my home since I used the bus more than the car.

    • M B June 11, 2020 (3:42 pm)

      I personally love the 22 route as well and would ride it more frequently if not for the hourly service. Its the fastest way to Westwood I would take it over the c line some days especially if catching connections to the airport due to its stop location. The 37 I also enjoyed though I don’t go to Alki as much. I know alot of Alki residents used this transit in the morning to get downtown. To Alki I prefer it over the 50. The demand throughout mid day is the challenging part due to the serviced stops not being main pedestrian traffic areas.

    • KM June 11, 2020 (9:43 pm)

      I love the 22! I only took it infrequently because it ran infrequently :-(

  • B June 11, 2020 (3:25 pm)

    Who wants to ride Metro right now? 

    • BWD June 11, 2020 (5:05 pm)

      The multitude of people who don’t have an option.

    • heartless June 11, 2020 (7:27 pm)

      Wants to?  For many it’s the bus or walking…  

    • YinWestwood June 12, 2020 (7:51 am)

      Sounds like you have the privilege of not having to use buses now.

  • JCW June 11, 2020 (4:04 pm)

    Ditto to Sue H – The 22 stops in front of our house, and I only took it a few times because the scheduled runs were too far apart to rely on. If it had regular service, we would’ve taken it many more times. It was awkward to try and plan events around it.

  • Mark Schletty June 11, 2020 (5:11 pm)

    The 22 stops right by my house. A few years back it ran about every 1/2 hour and I took it frequently. More other people did too. When they cut it back to once an hour it became worthless, too much trouble to coordinate with the stupid schedule. I now drive to the junction most of the time. Well, all the time with no 22. Thanks SDOT, for forcing me back to driving , even in West Seattle. 

  • B June 11, 2020 (5:54 pm)

    The 22 was great for the kids to use to get to and from Denny / Sealth– on the few occasions that it ran on time.  I called Metro several times a week (they  said to call each time the bus was late, to help the managers see how the schedule could be changed) for two YEARS.                          .When the school district changed the start / end times  of the schools, the times were not aligned with Metro, and the district didn’t not contact Metro to try to align the times (I checked).  The kids could be late arriving to school (considered unexcused, on top of missing  class time), or either leave the last class 25 minutes early or stay after school 50 minutes (if it was on time) to catch the bus home.  But the district doesn’t want kids *in* the school after the school day, so the kids could hang out where other students have been robbed, assaulted, and worse, to wait for the bus.  Less than ideal, especially with a disability (and the district SpEd bus had more difficulties: almost as if the district was pushing  families to handle their own transportation?!).                            .Looks like all those calls, documentation, and brainstorming with the Metro supervisors/route managers was to no avail.   Surprised?  

  • Mojo June 11, 2020 (5:59 pm)

    Some of us have to ride metro to get to work   I rode it before covid too. 

  • Arborheightsresident June 11, 2020 (6:41 pm)

    Without the 22, Arbor Heights has no bus service throughout a majority of the day. I don’t drive and rode the 22 at least three or four times a week. What am I supposed to do now? 

  • Chemist June 11, 2020 (9:48 pm)

    Looks like September service change will make cuts to Rapid Ride C, D, and E (the 3 that run in Seattle and have had service increases due to the STBD).  What’s interesting is that is happening now when the council’s earlier discussions about the STBD budget and future renewal talked about having tens of millions of dollars as carry-forward specifically to fund through the traditional service changes, even in case the STBD wasn’t renewed.  Now they’re cutting rapid ride already?And when does SDOT give input on which routes get cut?  Maybe the immediate STBD funding cuts should be from the ORCA cards for schoolkids instead of the rapid ride?

  • Mj June 11, 2020 (10:35 pm)

    Metro and the City of Seattle need to ensure that WS is provided significantly enhanced service, likely in the Fall when school gets started. 

    The City failed to properly maintain the WSB and is responsible to ensure a viable alternative is provided, basically transit service.  The better the transit service is to get to DT Seattle the more people can get out of their car leaving driving for those that work to the south or on the east side that transit is not a viable option for. 

    This means providing all day service throughout WS.

  • 22blades June 12, 2020 (7:18 am)

    Does anybody know what the “Full Winter Schedule” is for the Water Taxi? I can’t seem to find it…

    • WSB June 12, 2020 (8:39 pm)

      It’s not back online yet. Hopefully early in the week.

  • JEM June 12, 2020 (7:54 am)

    I also love the 22, great way to get home to Arbor Heights from the Junction. I agree that more people used it when it came more frequently. The once an hour schedule was really hard to plan for. As soon as they suspended it due to Covid I knew it would never be back. 

  • anonyme June 12, 2020 (9:33 am)

    What the hell Metro?  The #22 is the ONLY transportation available to a lot of people in Arbor Heights! I have no other way to shop, etc.  This move will make me a prisoner in my own home and essentially make the quarantine permanent. Outrageous.

  • surefinewhatever June 12, 2020 (12:45 pm)

    Are the FREAKING KIDDING? They’re taking the 37 away entirely, after years of making it so useless that people couldn’t reliably take it and have any idea they would get home? The only bus that goes to the water taxi in this peninsula? FFS. That’s unbelievable. You make it worthless, then say no one takes it.

    • Sam June 13, 2020 (9:19 am)

      I totally agree. I have taken the bus everyday to work for the last three years and love it. It stops right in front of my house. Sometimes I get off at the water taxi and sometimes I take it all the way downtown. How am I supposed to get to the water taxi or downtown now? The shuttle doesn’t come to my area or any of the other busses. This is totally messed up. 

  • yoyoland62 June 12, 2020 (5:04 pm)

    What about my bus 125 route, when is it coming back?

  • anonyme June 14, 2020 (6:03 am)

    I will be filing complaints with everyone possible regarding 22 cancellation.  Metro has chosen the 9-5 crowd over those who desperately need bus service to survive.  What happened to the “public” in public transportation?  If anything, our local routes have become even more essential due to the bridge closure.   Emphasis should be on wide coverage so that everyone has access, not just fast & furious coverage in concentrated areas.  So disgusted with Seattle right now.

  • Milt June 19, 2020 (4:35 pm)

    I created a petition on to ask Metro to reconsider suspension of Route 22.  Please sign it by following this link:

  • Sue H June 19, 2020 (8:39 pm)

    If they are permanently doing away with the 22, are there plans to remove the bus stops that are only served by the 22? If there’s never going to be a bus there, it would be nice to reclaim the parking spots.

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