Do you ride the bus between the Eastside and Seattle?

Image of 545 bus crossing state route 520

Ride a bus between Eastside and Seattle on SR-520?

Beginning in 2019, major construction projects in downtown Seattle will reduce surface street capacity, creating longer commutes for riders who use SR 520 routes. Sound Transit (ST) and King County Metro (KCM) have been considering changes to bus service in the SR 520 corridor to keep transit moving during construction. At the same time surface congestion increases in 2019, Link will become more reliable as buses are removed from the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Service planners are considering service restructures that would take advantage of this Link reliability.

Timeline

Timeline of 520 Connections project

Project Background

Options for connecting Eastside bus service to Link service were included in the first phase of the University Link Connections outreach in 2015, but we decided to hold a separate process with Eastside communities. We are engaging Eastside riders, stakeholders and residents throughout 2017 for input about service along the SR-520 corridor.

Metro and Sound Transit are also partners with the City of Seattle and Downtown Seattle Association in a joint One Center City effort. They’re looking at ways to keep people who commute to downtown Seattle from across the region moving as growth continues and major transportation projects move forward. One Center City will develop recommended strategies for further exploration and approval, including transit service restructuring and street and traffic improvements.

What we heard during Phase 1 outreach

During Phase I of the outreach process conducted earlier this year, we asked customers about their current transit experience on the SR-520, what they thought about re-directing routes to the University of Washington Link station for bus-rail transfers, and potential service and new connections to South Lake Union. 

A majority of survey respondents said they’d consider bus-rail transfer at the University of Washington light rail station, if it didn’t increase their travel time more than 5 minutes and the transfer environment was improved. Survey respondents also said transit resources should be reinvested to increase service frequency, reduce crowding and provide greater reliability. They also wanted service to be provided longer on weeknights and weekends. You can find more detailed information on the public outreach during phase 1 here.

The public and stakeholder feedback received in Phase I was used to develop various service concepts that fall into three themes:

Option A:  No Change, No change to service.
Option B:  Frequency Focus, All routes re-directed to UW light rail station for bus-rail transfers; more frequent bus service with expanded service times; new service to South Lake Union, Children’s Hospital and S. Kirkland.
Option C: Connections Focus, Some routes re-directed to UW light rail station for bus-rail transfers; better connections serving new markets; slightly more frequent service with slightly expanded service times.

The input gathered during Phase II will help develop a single service-change proposal to be released to the public this fall.

Phase II outreach summary

In June 2017, ST and KCM conducted an outreach and service planning effort that explored redirecting SR 520 corridor buses to connect to Link at the University of Washington. 

Geographic map of survey respondents

Geographic map of survey respondents

What we heard

Riders prioritize service reliability and frequency.

26 % of respondents would use transit more often than today if a combined bus/train trip were more reliable than their current route. We are working on potential improvements to the Montlake Triangle to create more reliable transfers between buses and Link light rail.

What's up next? 

ST and KCM will incorporate this feedback into Phase III service proposals in 2018 for implementation in 2019. We will continue working closely with stakeholder groups, jurisdictions and the citizen Sounding Board as we develop the fi nal proposal, which will go out to the public for review in spring 2018. 

How to stay involved

We greatly appreciate the thousands of people who have taken the time to share their feedback online or at one of our in-person events and look forward to your continued participation in the future.

Please visit soundtransit.org/linkconnections520 or kingcounty.gov/metro/520connections for more information or to subscribe to receive updates about the next opportunity to participate.