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City of Seattle

March 22, 1:08 PM click here to comment > 7

Seattle’s Transit Master Plan: Our Transit Future

We’re hard at work on the new Transit Master Plan, which will show us the transit corridors in the city that are the highest priority for providing higher capacity modes, including rail and bus rapid transit, to connect our neighborhoods.

The first phase of the planning process is complete and has given us a better understanding of how people use transit and get around in Seattle. The second phase will prioritize approximately 15 high demand corridors; assign high capacity transit modes to several of those corridors; recommend speed and reliability improvements on other priority corridors; and develop a capital projects list and funding plan for all future investments. This plan is designed to meet Seattle’s transit needs over the next 20 years.

Read below to learn about the work that has already been done by our Seattle Department of Transportation and the consultant for the Transit Master Plan, Nelson\Nygaard.

Public survey
Early in the planning process, we launched an online public survey about transit in Seattle, and we received more than 11,100 responses. Here are some highlights.

In response to the question, “What do you want the Transit Master Plan to do?” the top two responses were:
• add light rail between major destinations (57% of respondents)
• make the buses faster and more reliable (55%)

In response to the question, “Why do you use transit?” the top two responses were:
• It saves money (70%)
• It’s convenient to use (62%)

On the flip side of this question, when people were asked why they don’t use transit, the top two responses were:
• It takes too long (61%)
• It does not run often enough (44%)

You’ll be able to read more about the survey results on the project website when SDOT is finished analyzing responses in the next couple of weeks.

Peer cities studied
In order to get a better sense of where Seattle stands in comparison to other North American cities, we took a good look at transit in San Francisco, Vancouver, Portland, Denver, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Ottawa.

Some key findings are below. Read the full Peer Cities study.

• Seattle’s 20% transit commute mode share—the amount of people using transit for work trips—is fairly high. Only San Francisco, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Pittsburgh were higher.

• Seattle’s light rail system is smaller than all other cities studied except Ottawa. All of the peer cities are currently moving forward with light rail expansion. They are also implementing “rapid bus” services (similar to our region’s RapidRide).

• The cost efficiency of our regional transit system is below average, as is its productivity (measured in boardings per hour). However, service in the City of Seattle itself is highly productive and cost effective.

• Experience from the peer cities shows that transit system cost effectiveness often improves as the light rail system is expanded; this is due, in part, to the fact that light rail can carry more passengers on very highly-used corridors.

Ottawa’s downtown is full of buses, so they are building a transit tunnel to help ease the load – and will include an extended light rail line

Market analysis highlights
The market analysis looked at trip making by transit and all other modes in Seattle and the region to establish where people’s needs are being met and where there are gaps we need to address. Highlights are below. Read the full market analysis.

Metro bus service currently focuses largely on peak commuting times. In order to provide for people’s needs, changes may be needed.

• About 45% of Metro bus service is provided during peak commuting hours. Peak service targets work trips, which are a relatively small portion of the total travel market in Seattle (17% of all travel trips made by any mode).

• The other 83% of trips make up the majority of daily travel in the city, are dispersed throughout the city (sometimes between urban villages), are not as downtown-focused, and are shorter.

Center City transit use is high, and this area is expected to take on roughly 50% of the total population and job growth in the next 20 years. Increasing capacity of transit to the Center City is essential for keeping the city moving smoothly.

Improving the urban environment around transit is important if we are to encourage transit use that is safe and accessible.

• Transit demand is highest where walking is safe and comfortable, and where transit service is fast and reliable.

• Transit demand is highest where it is more expensive or inconvenient to drive.

• Improving pedestrian quality and safety along transit routes is a challenge, especially along major arterial streets. Focusing pedestrian improvements in major transit corridors is a key opportunity to increase ridership and create a high return on investment.

San Francisco’s Transit First policy prioritizes transit over other modes

There is a wealth of information on the Transit Master Plan website. To learn more about the Transit Master Plan process, sign up for the email list or contact the Transit Master Plan staff.

Posted by: Rebecca Deehr


Comment from AJ
Time March 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm

That Ottawa photo is unreal.

Comment from Bill Bradburd
Time March 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm

please don’t lose sight of the Urban Village Transit Plan which is critical to helping Seattle residents get around town with out a car.

Too much focus on downtown and light rail will not help us address the vast majority of SOV trips that are for non-commute purposes.

Comment from Roman
Time March 25, 2011 at 3:11 am

Bus with the bicycle – epic picture !

Comment from Ruth Fruland
Time March 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Visiting the ‘other’ Washington during its Environmental Film Festival, I ran across this documentary about Bogota, which may have some worthwhile ideas related to city transportation, democracy, and sustainability. It’s online, ironically, at the following website:

Comment from Portlander
Time March 28, 2011 at 11:27 am

I’m disappointed with Metro’s proposals for trolleybuses. Using hybrid buses instead doesn’t make sense for Seattle’s steep hillclimb routes. And it doesn’t make sense to remove trolleybuses from 1st Ave and run a streetcar line there.

A 1st Ave “Left Lane/Center Station” streetcar line “exclusively separated” from curbside diesel and hybrid bus service, neither running frequently, is NOT a good transit design. Metro’s design for 1st Ave will fail.

Curbside trolleybus service on 1st Ave operating at (or under) 5-minute frequency is ideal between King and Mercer. An upgrade to a low-floor model trolleybus is long overdue but the proposed articulated model is not appropriate for hillclimbs nor frequent service.

Connect the First Hill Streetcar to a new Waterfront Streetcar Line. SDOT says it’s not possible but their new Alaskan Way boulevard design is likewise NOT good design.

A bridge over the RR tracks at Broad Street would help manage traffic during waterfront reconstruction and thereafter. And, it could host streetcar tracks that from there run north on Elliott, cross Western onto 3rd Ave W. and turn east on some cross-street to a Seattle Center terminus or turnaround. Imagine that.

Keep trolleybus service on 1st Ave.
Reinstall the Waterfront Streetcar and connect it to the First & Capital Hills Line.
City officials that ignore public input, fail.

Comment from Christine Brushwood
Time March 29, 2011 at 6:45 am

The back door on the buses has changed, and now makes a very loud piston popping sound that drives me crazy! It didnt used to be like that and I want the doors to open quietly again. There should be more care for the sounds that things make.

Comment from Benjaimin
Time May 11, 2011 at 11:20 am

Please build a streetcar line from South Lake Union to Fremont and on to Ballard and build light rail line from SoDo to West Seattle. This modest rail investment along with Link will connect the major regions of the city.