The latest hot spot improvement from the wizards of Metro’s Speed & Reliability team benefits 1,500 riders per day and improves traffic flow in the surrounding area, too. Metro’s Spot Improvements Program consists of low-cost capital investments to improve bottleneck conditions that affect bus travel times, reliability, and safety.

When Route 150 would depart Tukwila Park & Ride, it struggled to merge left before the intersection at Interurban Ave. S. and 52nd Ave. S. to continue southbound, and experienced delays when traffic was heavy. Right-turning cars would use the middle southbound lane at the intersection, weaving with buses trying to go through, creating unsafe situations.

To keep buses moving, Metro added a queue jump at the intersection at Interurban Ave. S. and 52nd Ave. S.

Queue Jump – a traffic signal that lets buses move through the intersection first, before other traffic, giving them a head start.

Graphic shows what traffic signals look like for a regular vehicle vs. a bus with a queue jump

Buses and right-turning vehicles now share the right lane. Just before southbound traffic gets a green light, the queue jump signal is activated, and buses can go through the intersection before other vehicles.

The project, which was funded by Metro in partnership with City of Tukwila, has resulted in increased safety and improved all-day average travel times, reliability and on-time performance:

  • Morning commute times saw a 5% improvement in on-time performance
  • Morning and afternoon commute trips saw up to an eight-second travel time improvement
A bus passes through the intersection using the new queue jump
A bus passes through the intersection using the new queue jump
Close up view of new queue jump signal
Close up view of new queue jump signal

Route 150 is one of the highest-ridership routes in south King County and provides a vital link between Kent, Tukwila, and Seattle. Over the course of the day, the route currently carries 1,500 people south from the park-and-ride – four buses per hour, during the rush hour. Before a decrease in ridership due to COVID-19, buses carried 2,700 riders southbound through this intersection each day, on six buses per hour during commute times.

There are other improvements planned in south King County in support of better bus service. Starting Sept. 19, the Renton, Kent, and Auburn Area Mobility Project will be implemented, providing more reliable and frequent bus service to the area and customized transit solutions based on unique needs heard from the community.

Upcoming spot improvements to support new bus service in south King County include additional queue jumps, right turn safety enhancements, left turn operational improvements, and bus lane upgrades. These improvements will reduce delay and improve reliability for both new and existing transit routes. People walking, biking, and driving will also benefit from improved safety and efficiency.

In 2019 alone, Metro’s Spot Improvements Program partnered with the cities of Seattle, Bellevue, Covington, Federal Way, Kent, Kirkland, and SeaTac to improve “hot spots” at 21 locations, benefiting 162,700 riders along 103 bus routes.