Metro wants to thank the West Seattle riders who shared their ideas on how to address the current challenges facing our bus routes to and from West Seattle and downtown Seattle. We hear you. We share your frustration: Metro wants buses moving, not stuck in traffic.
Improvements coming in 2019
Your ideas are welcome and have helped us consider options that could improve commutes until the final pathway for Alaskan Way is completed. Here are some steps we are taking with the City of Seattle:
- Metro is continuing to work with the City of Seattle on potential lane and traffic signal changes on First Avenue and the surrounding areas to improve traffic flow. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is implementing changes to help provide a more reliable experience for transit, including:
- Revising signal timing at First Avenue South & South Dearborn Street and Alaskan Way South & South Dearborn Street to further aid transit operation.
- Further optimizing the signal timing plan for the First Avenue corridor through Pioneer Square while emphasizing the north and south movements.
- Implementing pre-game event signal timing to support the last two mid-day baseball games of the season.
- Working to ensure high priority for incident management during the morning and afternoon commutes.
Potential pathways in 2020 and 2021
The process of demolishing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, opening the new SR99 tunnel, and building a new road on Alaskan Way have been especially challenging for West Seattle riders and King County Metro. We have had to move former viaduct routes to different corridors to accommodate construction. The reality is that there are limited paths to downtown through SODO. Some have asked if we could return to the pathway used during the viaduct closure. That pathway worked in January because many commuters changed their travel times and patterns for a month and also because of several temporary bus lanes and uniformed traffic control officers at key intersections. These measures would be difficult and costly to renew and maintain for an extended time. We are continuing to look for options to improve the operations of these pathways in coordination with SDOT.
In early 2020, we plan to switch to a new pathway using a rebuilt Columbia Street and Alaskan Way, avoiding First Avenue altogether. The work by Waterfront Seattle on the Columbia Street two-way transit corridor will allow us to permanently run all former viaduct routes on Columbia Street and Alaskan Way beginning in early 2020.
While Alaskan Way will likely continue to have some congestion as construction on the waterfront continues through 2021, we expect that traveling on this new pathway will improve travel times to and from downtown Seattle.
Once construction is complete, the final pathway on Alaskan Way will include 24/7 transit lanes in both directions and will further improve commute times for West Seattle riders. That permanent pathway with transit lanes and Pioneer Square bus stops is expected to fully open sometime in 2021.
Other transit options to consider
The Water Taxi, while normally a great option for avoiding gridlock, will be out of service from August 5-11 while crews relocate equipment from the temporary Waterfront facility to the brand new facility at Pier 50. When the new facility opens on August 12, we recommend riders explore the Water Taxi and its two connecting shuttles, one that goes to Alaska Junction via Avalon and Alaska (Route 773) and another to the Admiral Junction and then along Alki back to the dock (Route 775).
For those who live north of Southwest Holden Street, the Ride2 program is another option to get you to and from transit options, including the Water Taxi. Ride 2 vehicles will pick you up at your home and take you to either Alaska Junction or to the Water Taxi dock. Another option after taking the Water Taxi is Route 37, which has capacity for more riders and serves Alaska Junction via Alki Avenue Southwest and Beach Drive Southwest during commuter hours. When downtown is congested, taking Link light rail to SODO and transferring to Route 50 can also get you to West Seattle (on Alaska Junction, California Avenue, and Admiral Way).
Construction at 35th and Avalon
Many riders have also reached out with frustration regarding the temporary bus stop closures due to construction on Avalon Way and 35th Avenue Southwest. The road construction schedule has required multiple moves of stops on both Avalon and 35th. The northbound stop to downtown on 35th Avenue Southwest has been reopened (just south of Southwest Avalon Way) while the southbound stop to West Seattle is temporarily located about 300 feet east of 35th on Avalon. Riders can transfer between many routes including the 21 and 21X here.
We are working to get better advance notice on stop changes and lane reroutes during this challenging time. It is our goal to be able to provide you with more regular updates during the weeks ahead.
For up-to-date information, we recommend riders sign up for Metro’s service alerts.
Additional service coming in September
The September service change is not online yet, but there will be service additions to West Seattle routes as well as changes to Route 22. To better serve transit needs and accommodate construction, Route 22 is moving from 25th Avenue Southwest and 24th Avenue Southwest onto Delridge Way Southwest. This is necessary to accommodate construction of new sidewalks and drainage improvements. Delridge Way is also better suited for long-term transit operations. Stop changes related to this move will be coming soon.
Routes 21, 120, and the C Line are receiving additional service or trips to meet increasing needs on weekends, evenings, and weekdays — specifically the hours before and after peak hours. Details will be announced in the beginning of September.
Thank you again for your constructive feedback and ideas on how to help navigate the challenges we all face during the “Seattle Squeeze.” We will keep you updated as we make decisions on potential changes.