Link Connections

Background

Last October, the King County Council adopted a set of changes to Metro bus service that will go into effect on March 26, 2016 after Link light rail begins serving Capitol Hill and the University of Washington on March 19, 2016.

Link will give riders a reliable eight-minute trip between Husky Stadium and downtown Seattle, avoiding freeway and surface-street traffic. Learn more about new Link service »

The adopted changes will make it easier for riders to connect with the new service. The changes will also improve bus networks in northeast Seattle and on Capitol Hill, using resources saved by trimming bus service that duplicates new Link service.

Public participation

Over three phases of outreach, Metro worked in partnership with Sound Transit to engage the public in shaping these service changes (and some changes to be considered by Sound Transit's Board on a similar timeline). We thank all who took the time to give us feedback.

How public input shaped the changes

Project Timeline

  • Nov 5 – Dec 5, 2014

    Phase 1 of public engagement: community members help shape service concepts by sharing how they use transit today and improvements they would like to see.

  • Dec 2014

    Metro and Sound Transit service planners use public feedback to design bus change concepts.

  • JanJun 2015

    Sounding Board (a community advisory group) meets 8–10 times to inform Metro’s planning / outreach process and develop a recommendation for changing service.

  • Mar 2015

    Phase 2 of public engagement: community members comment on two potential service networks for northeast Seattle and Capitol Hill, including some service on SR-520.

  • Apr 2015

    Metro and Sound Transit's service planners use public feedback to shape a set of proposed service changes.

  • May 2015

    Phase 3 of public engagement: community members help shape the final set of service changes that will be presented to the King County Council (Metro proposals) and Sound Transit Board (Sound Transit proposals).

  • Fall 2015

    The King County Council and Sound Transit Board consider and adopt service changes.

  • Early 2016

    Link light rail service will begin serving Capitol Hill and the University of Washington.

  • Mar 2016

    Metro and Sound Transit change bus service.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why not keep bus service as-is?

Starting in early 2016, Link light rail trains will offer a fast, reliable eight-minute trip between downtown Seattle and Husky Stadium, and a four-minute trip between downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill. To help riders take advantage of this new light rail service, Metro has recommended changing bus service in March 2016 to make it easier to get to and from the new stations. It’s a huge opportunity to help riders in the state’s largest transit market receive better service by restructuring an estimated one-third of Metro’s current service in Seattle and the University District.

Link is scheduled to reach the University District, Roosevelt, and Northgate stations in 2021, five years after the Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium light rail stations open for business. Instead of providing duplicate service on both buses and light rail, Metro planners worked with the community to develop recommended changes to the bus network that, consistent with county policy, will use Metro’s limited resources to connect riders with Link AND improve other bus service in the affected areas—making it more frequent, less crowded, and more reliable, with service and new east-west connections our riders have asked for.

Will people in northeast Seattle have to use Link light rail to get downtown?

Riders have used the same transit network in northeast Seattle for several decades to get downtown. As the region’s population and traffic grew, voters approved light rail to better connect these important regional activity centers. That said, no one will be required to use Link to make their trip. If you’re one of the 4,000 people who use peak commuter service to get to and from downtown Seattle, your bus service will be at least as good as, or better than, what you have today during the peak commute. Routes 74, 76, 77, and 316 will all have increased service. And you’ll have new bus options (via revised Route 64 and new/renamed routes 62 and 63) for commuting to work in South Lake Union, First Hill, and Fremont—some of the fastest-growing employment centers in our region.

During the day, riders who want to use only Metro service still have that option. Metro’s recommendation includes options for transfers between frequent bus routes to the same places served by light rail, plus a one-seat ride between northeast Seattle and downtown on new/renamed Route 62. Bottom line: you won’t have to take the train if you don’t want to.

Why are we recommending the deletion of productive routes?

Sound Transit chose the path for Link light rail because of the high ridership between downtown, Capitol Hill, and the University of Washington. By reinvesting the resources used to operate buses along that pathway, Metro can double the number of buses on other key corridors and get you downtown more reliably, and in about the same amount of time or less, with a transfer to Link light rail. Riders tell us they are frustrated riding the often-delayed, overcrowded, and unreliable routes 43, 71, 72, and 73 to and from downtown. A majority of riders on the 70-series routes take them between the University District and downtown Seattle—the same pathway covered by new Link service.

By reducing this duplication, Metro can make sure more buses arrive on time, provide more-reliable trips, provide buses that come more often and at more times of day, and connect people to new destinations they’ve been asking for.

Resources from the deleted routes can be invested to:

  • Improve peak service for thousands of riders between northeast Seattle and downtown Seattle.
  • Double the frequency of local bus service on key corridors in northeast Seattle where riders have never before seen buses that come more often than every half hour.
  • Provide new opportunities to travel along NE 65th Street and connect to Sand Point, Wedgwood, Ravenna, Roosevelt, Green Lake, Wallingford, and Fremont.
  • Better bus service on Capitol Hill, in the Central Area, and in northeast Seattle—including buses that come more often, buses that run later at night, more buses on the weekends, and buses that are on time more often.
  • Frequent, reliable buses for 8,000 Capitol Hill and Central Area riders who use routes 8 and 48, so buses that come more often and arrive on time more often.

Will people who pay cash have to pay twice?

With an ORCA card, riders transferring between buses and Link light rail would not have to pay twice. The proposed service changes are recommended for an area that already has the highest ORCA use in King County. More than 72 percent of current riders in the project area are already using ORCA to pay their fares.

Riders who still want to use cash to pay Metro bus fares would need to purchase a separate ticket to ride Link in addition to their regular bus fare. These riders would greatly benefit from buying an ORCA card and loading value onto it. The ORCA LIFT low-income fare and an improved network for adding value to ORCA cards are reducing barriers to getting and using ORCA cards. Learn more about ORCA and ORCA LIFT.

Metro will be in the affected communities with our ORCA To Go van in the months leading up to the change, helping to get ORCA cards into the hands of those who will benefit from them the most. Those who continue to pay cash can use bus-only options for completing their trips to or from downtown Seattle.

What about people with disabilities and those who can’t walk farther to reach the bus? How do these changes address the needs of those who depend on public transportation for all their travel needs?

In northeast Seattle, Metro’s recommendation triples the number of households with access to 15-minute (frequent) all-day bus service with the recommended changes. In Capitol Hill, it more than doubles the number of households that would have access to 12-minute (frequent) all-day bus service.

More evening, late-night, and weekend service is also a part of these changes. For people who rely most on transit service, making convenient connections and having service that runs as much of the day as possible are essential.

In developing the revised network, Metro considered how to serve as many riders as possible, and considered the pathways connecting areas to transit used by riders of all abilities. This network attempts to balance the need for transit service in areas with higher ridership and higher populations with geographic access. Our new fleet of low-floor buses, combined with current work to make transfer locations as convenient as possible by moving stops closer to one another and installing shelters and other amenities, will help people of all abilities reach existing and new destinations.

In places where service is no longer accessible for some riders, Metro will provide other options. Less than 1 percent of households in low-ridership areas would lose access to transit within a quarter mile of their homes, and alternatives exist for them. For these residents and the few riders who have mobility issues that prevent them from going farther to reach service, Rideshare/Vanpools, Access paratransit service, the Hyde Shuttle, and our taxi scrip program are some of the other systems in place to serve their needs. Learn more about these alternatives.

Related Info

See Metro's March 26 service change information for all route changes here.

For an overview of new Link service launch day activities, station tours, maps, and rider tips, go to www.ulink2016.org.

Latest News

Project contact

DeAnna Martin
Community Relations Planner
Send DeAnna an email
or call 206-477-3835

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