(Editor’s note: this posted was updated on August 12 to include a new Frequently Asked Questions section and other resources)
Today, King County Metro released its 50-page “West Seattle Bridge Closure Transit Action Plan,” outlining Metro’s near-term response to the closure of the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge on March 23, 2020.
Coordinating closely with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and other partner agencies, the plan seeks to address the mobility needs of residents of West Seattle and beyond through bus service (including traditional bus, RapidRide, and shuttle), Taxi, Vanpool, Water Taxi, non-motorized options such as biking, and other innovative shared-ride solutions.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on fare and sales tax revenue means that Metro is planning potential mobility solutions in a budget–constrained environment. Several solutions would require third-party funding, and additional funding is needed to restore bus service to pre-COVID levels, which is among Metro’s top priorities. (We shared our approach in “Metro’s plans for transit in West Seattle.”)
Planning in the age of COVID-19 requires that multiple scenarios are considered for each transit mode, given the array of unknowns. The “West Seattle Bridge Closure Transit Action Plan” explores what West Seattle service levels could look like as physical distancing limits are relaxed and more people are allowed on each coach, vehicle, or vessel. Given that the high bridge is not expected to reopen until 2022 at the earliest, the plan presents solutions as the region moves through the Governor’s four-phase approach and eventually returns to normal operations. Metro’s overall ridership remains down 64% from a year ago, though ridership is gradually returning.
Public transit capacity scenarios
|Physical distancing during COVID-19 (limited seating)||12||12||18||86||2|
|Fully seated (all seats)||27||37||48-58||139||7*|
|Crowded (all seats + standing)||37||51||83||278||7* (no standees)|
*12 & 15 passenger vans also available
TABLE 1, West Seattle Bridge Mobility Action Plan
The plan was compiled by Metro’s West Seattle Bridge Response Team, an 11-member task force comprised of transit and mobility experts and communicators, many of whom are transit users who reside in areas impacted by the high bridge’s closure.
The task force worked with community members to hear their perspectives and concerns, and gathered the best data available to make sure the plan considered the diverse needs of those impacted by the high bridge’s closure. Related data, including heat maps and census tracts, can be viewed in the plan.
The success of the “West Seattle Bridge Closure Transit Action Plan” hinges on continual monitoring, listening, and responding as transportation patterns and attitudes towards transit evolve and our region emerges from the pandemic. Metro remains committed to developing creative and flexible solutions that best serve the needs of all community members now and during the months and years ahead.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where can I find maps to help plan my trip?
We want to make it as easy as possible to find your route, locate where Metro stops downtown, and make connections to your final destination if it requires a transfer. Metro’s customer communications group has prepared these four maps to assist with wayfinding to reach your connecting bus or train:
- West Seattle to Downtown and SODO (RapidRide D Line, 550, 510, 512, 3, 4, 12, 522, 150, Link, 545. 106, 50, RapidRide E, RapidRide C, 590, 594)
- Connections to Greater Seattle and North King County (21, 21X, 55, 120, RapidRide C, RapidRide D, RapidRide E, 125, 56, 57, 3, 4)
- Connections to East King County (21, 21X, 55, 56, 57, 120, 522, 545, RapidRide C, 125, 550, 125)
- Connections to Snohomish County, South King County, and Pierce County (21, 21X, 55, 56, 57, 120, RapidRide C, 125, 510, 512, 590, 594, 150, 106, 150)
What Metro routes used the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge prior to its closure?
RapidRide C Line, 21, 21X, 50, 120, 125
Routes 55, 56, 57 are scheduled to return with the fall service change (September 21, 2020)
Routes 37, 116, 118, 119 have been suspended indefinitely (though there is on-island Vashon service to replace 118 and 119)
How are Metro routes impacted by the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure?
Routes that previously used the high bridge are now using the Spokane Street Low Bridge. Because of the decrease in traffic due to COVID-19, these routes are not seeing a significant impact to travel times. They are however subject to openings on the lower bridge for boats, which can cause periodic delays.
The low bridge diversion does not affect stop locations for West Seattle routes.
Where has service been reduced or paused in West Seattle since COVID–19?
Metro has reduced service in West Seattle and throughout the county to reflect decreased ridership as residents follow direction from elected leaders and public health officials, and for the safety of our workforce and the public. Under the reduced schedule, buses run less frequently throughout the day. Some bus service may also start later in the morning and end earlier in the evening.
Will Metro be adding more West Seattle service as people go back to work? Will that be a return to regular service or higher frequencies?
Metro has been adding back some service to reflect demand and the opening of some businesses. We are very aware that many people do not have the option to work from home. We are restoring service to several routes that have been previously suspended, but service will not be at pre-COVID levels.
Are buses taking longer to reach downtown Seattle?
Currently, West Seattle buses are not seeing major delays as traffic is very light as many people are not traveling to work. However, buses are subject to bridge openings on the Spokane Street Low Bridge which can cause considerable delays and traffic congestion. Metro has been working closely with SDOT to improve transit priority to the low bridge. Two notable projects were new transit priority at the five-way intersection at Spokane and Delridge and a longer bus lane on Delridge leading to the five-way intersection.
Which organizations are collaborating on this work?
Metro is working with SDOT and regional transportation, safety, and maritime partners to jointly develop a comprehensive traffic control plan to keep people and goods moving. SDOT has also established an interagency task force to coordinate a unified emergency response if conditions of the high bridge reach critical thresholds. The task force includes the City of Seattle, King County, Northwest Seaport Alliance, Port of Seattle, the State of Washington, the United States Coast Guard (USCG), and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Have questions or comments?
Please contact Metro Community Relations by email at Community.Relations@kingcounty.gov or by phone at 206-263-9768.
Related Metro Matters coverage
- Metro’s Plans for Transit in West Seattle (July 10, 2020)