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Metro Proposes Service Cuts in I-90 Corridor to Improve Speed, Overcrowding

Changes include eliminating Route 216 service to Mercer Island Park & Ride, cutting South Bellevue Park & Ride from Route 211, and adding a stop to the Eastgate Freeway Station to Route 210.

To ease crowding and improve travel times, Metro Transit is proposing schedule and route changes on seven peak commute routes along I-90, and has launched an effort to seek public feedback on the plans.

Routes proposed for changes are 210, 211, 212, 214, 215, 216, and 218, which according to a Metro news release are among the busiest and most productive commuter routes in Metro’s transit network (for more detail, click on the images to review proposed changes on a map). Buses carry 5,000 to 7,000 daily Eastside commuters along the I-90 corridor to downtown Seattle and serve three major Eastside park-and-rides at Eastgate, downtown Issaquah and Issaquah Highlands.

But good transit service and growing Eastside transit demand has led to crowded buses. Ridership on routes 216 and 218 already was strong, and high demand for boarding these buses in the downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel caused overcrowding — and buses sometimes were too full to pick up passengers.

To relieve this pressure in the afternoon, Metro immediately stopped serving the Eastgate Freeway Station with Route 218 in October 2012, and will stop serving it with Route 216 in late February 2013. Meanwhile, Route 212 continues to serve Eastgate from Second Avenue with other similar routes.

Despite the initial changes, Metro continues to hear from customers that buses are heavily loaded. To further reduce crowding and improve service, Metro proposes reallocating some trips to operate at times and on routes to better match demand. Also, to speed up travel times, some bus routes could change paths to better serve riders where demand is higher by skipping stops where other duplicate service is available.

First Hill Express Route 211, for example, is proposed to skip the Bellevue Park & Ride stop (14 buses daily on weekdays). Route 216, which connects Downtown Seattle to Sammamish, is proposed to skip the Mercer Island Park & Ride (19 buses daily on weekdays) in order to save 3-8 minutes, according to Metro.

Because Metro’s budget is limited, the proposed changes only redistribute existing service or make no-cost operational changes.

Riders can learn more at Metro’s Have A Say website as well as share their thoughts through an online survey (through Feb. 10). Metro Transit planners will be talking to riders on buses and answer questions at an upcoming public meeting from 12-1:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 31, at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle. Riders also can email haveasay@kingcounty.gov or call 206-263-9768.

After public feedback is collected, changes would be proposed to the King County Council in March, followed by review and consideration in April. If adopted by the County Council, changes would be implemented in September.

(Ed. Note: The information above is provided by a King County Metro news release.)

Gary Redman January 19, 2013 at 06:02 PM
So, we are being encouraged to use public transportation, but when we too many of us do, Metro makes the brilliant decision to eliminate service to prevent overcrowding. What am I missing here?
Kendall Watson January 19, 2013 at 07:58 PM
"Because Metro’s budget is limited, the proposed changes only redistribute existing service or make no-cost operational changes." Metro's budget has taken some significant hits after the economy fell off a cliff in 2008, while demand soared. So basically they're saying they're trying to do the best with what they've got — for example, the 216 for Mercer Island residents largely duplicates the Sound Transit routes — unless you're headed to Sammamish, that is. For Mercer Island residents this has got to seem like a bit of a slap in the face, as Gary seems to indicate, given that tolling is likely in the near future and EastLink light rail won't be online until 2023.
Kendall Watson January 19, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Some great exchanges on the Seattle Transit Blog on these proposed changes, plus a couple of interesting (if a bit biased?) comments directed at Mercer Island. Check it out: http://seattletransitblog.com/2013/01/19/metro-proposes-i-90-reshuffle/#comment-282131
Mark Marshall January 19, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Our Park & Ride is a joke. Unless you are there by 7:50, most all mornings there is no parking. To park at the south Mercer Village (south QFC), requires a trip on the infrequently-run shuttle to the north end P&R, and a mirror-copy transit when going home. In the morning, the shuttle drops me at the north end P&R, usually sometime around 8:40. The 550 busses to Seattle are inevitably standing room only, and sometimes you can't even get on. The 216 is better -- usually you can get a seat -- but now Metro proposes to end even stopping on MI. MI residents pay their taxes, the same as residents further east. We deserve better transit service. (It would help if Metro built a multi-level P&R for South Bellevue -- near the blueberry bog -- so our P&R wouldn't get overtaken by Bellevue residents.) J. M. Marshall
MicheLe E. January 20, 2013 at 01:58 PM
I'm with Gary Redman on this one!! Cutting service to ease overcrowding is ignorant and moronic to say the least!
Sarah Weinberg January 21, 2013 at 07:31 PM
These are METRO changes, with no mention of SOUND TRANSIT service. Sound Transit already has increased 550 bus runs, at least in the morning rush hour. Will Sound Transit be able to take the extra passengers who used to ride the 216? More importantly, do these two transit agencies talk to each other and coordinate their schedules and changes?
Publius February 13, 2013 at 06:54 AM
Don't hold your breath. They still can't coordinate schedules around the existing light rail line.

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