In recent weeks, Metro has previewed the “action plan” it’s been working on for West Seattle, post-bridge closure. The plan, which details both what’s been done and what’s ahead, has just gone public. See it in its entirety here or below:
Some of what’s in it has been discussed already at meetings we’ve covered – but if you want every single detail of what’s been discussed and what’s ahead, plus costs and even communication plans, this is your document. This includes the Water Taxi as well as buses and vanpools.
A few excerpts – first, its origins:
A Metro Core team (“WSB Response Team”) was formed immediately following notice of the West Seattle Bridge closure to develop a Metro Transit Action Plan (Plan), which would address the Peninsula’s mobility needs. The closure affected all WS routes that used the West Seattle Bridge (RapidRide C Line, 21, 21X, 37, 50, 55, 56, 57, 116, 118, 119, 120, 125) plus those routes that use the 1st Avenue South/ South Park Bridges (60, 113, 121, 122, 123, 131, 132) which will see extremely congested conditions once traffic approaches pre-COVID levels.
And an overview:
As of the time of publication, Metro and the City of Seattle have identified five high visibility mobility improvements that the two agencies will jointly plan for based on potential availability of third party or other funding. These concepts, including detailed descriptions, annual costs, and transportation benefit will be developed over the course of summer 2020 and would be ready to implement upon a return of demand and identification of funding.
High-Visibility mobility service improvements:
1. Water Taxi service upgrades: up to two boats all-day (peak, off peak, weekend) year round, roughly corresponding to the 5am-9pm daily period when SOVs are not allowed on the low bridge
2. Route 773/775 Water Taxi shuttle improvements: new route(s) and/or substantially increased frequency
3. RapidRide C Line service frequency upgrades: add additional peak and off peak trips
4. All day fixed route service between Admiral and Downtown: such as and all day Route 56, which historically provided this all-day service until 2012)
5. Route 50 service frequency upgrades: add additional peak and off peak trips as far east as Sodo Station
Note that phrase “third-party funding.” The plan refers to the expiring Seattle Transportation Benefit District funding, but it should be noted that a new 6-year STBD funding plan to pay for “extra” Metro service, including some money earmarked for West Seattle, is going to city voters in November.
The ‘action plan” also addresses the current pandemic-specfic challenges:
Currently Metro monitors passenger loads daily and identifies trends in which routes and trips experience crowding beyond COVID-based thresholds. Overcrowding is tracked using per vehicle-based crowding thresholds for social distancing (e.g. 12 passengers on 40’, and 18 passengers on 60’ coaches). Service Development and other teams support the effort. Additional trips are then deployed as needed, and as possible within workforce and budget constraints. The typical turnaround is approximately one week, but we have the ability to move faster if needed, and because these added trips are not published publicly, we do not need to add extra time for customer communications. In general this turnaround time is needed to distinguish between trends and one-off occurrences. We will be further identifying resources available in Metro’s upcoming 2021/2022 budget, but do currently have the ability to add service to quickly meet demand.
The plan also addresses routing alternatives that would be needed if the low bridge was out of commission for either bridge-repair logistics or high-bridge collapse. And it recaps Metro’s plans to expand some service in September:
Table 4 highlights Metro’s fixed route service plan beginning with the September 2020 service change, on Monday, September 21. Most all-day route in West Seattle will operate without temporary reductions or suspensions. Due to reduced funding from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD), many routes will operate at reduced service levels compared to pre-COVID levels. Peak period service that is currently suspended will resume at reduced service levels due to reduced STBD funding on the following routes:
• Admiral, Alaska Junction, Genesee Hill, Alki (55, 56, 57)
Service suspensions will continue on several West Seattle routes:
• Peak-only downtown-bound Vashon and Fauntleroy service (116, 118 Express, 119 Express)
• Peak-only Alki bus service (37)
• Route 22 service in Arbor Heights, Gatewood, and Alaska Junction (intra-West Seattle)
Additional supplemental service will be available to deploy and quickly respond to crowding issues on West Seattle service as it arises.
One more excerpt of interest – Metro has four park-and-ride lots in West Seattle now but has pondered expanding:
Steps could be taken to expand park & ride capacity serving West Seattle transit routes by:
• Reconfiguring existing lots to yield more spaces. In particular, additional parking spaces could be striped at the Spokane Street park & ride
• Leasing additional parking capacity, concentrated around major bus transfer points. An initial analysis identified up to 93 locations throughout West Seattle that could be appropriate for leasing, including lots serving commercial properties, churches, public parks and residential complexes. This analysis identified up to:
o 550 spaces within walking distance of Seacrest Park
o 375 spaces within walking distance of bus stops at the Admiral Junction
o 430 spaces within walking distance of bus stops at the Alaska Junction
o 130 spaces within walking distance of bus stops at the Morgan Junction
o 315 spaces within walking distance of bus stops and the ferry dock at Fauntleroy
o 1200 spaces within walking distance of bus stops at Westwood Village
• Partnering with technology platforms that match drivers with reserved parking spaces. Metro’s Innovative Mobility group is in talks with Spot Hero and other companies that allow travelers to reserve and pay for parking spaces operated by private owners ranging from retailers to residential property managers. This model could be adapted to help travelers access transit, and could potentially be used to offer TDM incentives
A lot of this is “could” rather than “will,” not just because of funding, but also because they’re just not sure what’ll happen with ridership – many employers, private and public, have extended teleworking until at least the start of next year.